Summary Judgment – Plaintiff's Testimony That She "Missed a Step" Negates Her Claim of Negligence Against City of Chicago and Contractor

Attorney Lauren Rafferty recently obtained summary judgment in a premises liability case in Cook County.  The plaintiff tripped and fell on a temporary ramp that had been set-up while a nearby sidewalk was under construction.  She claimed that the sound of a nearby jackhammer caused distracted her and caused her fall.  She sustained a broken shoulder and was claiming permanent damage as a result of the incident.    

LRP attorneys, representing the contractor and the city, developed both a proximate cause defense and an “open and obvious” rule defense.  They elicited testimony from plaintiff during her deposition that she had “missed a step” and that confirmed that she could not identify any specific problem with the ramp that caused her to fall.  She further admitted that she had no problem seeing the ramp and the nearby orange barricades and that she had walked on the ramp several times prior to her fall.  She could only point to the sound of the jackhammer as the cause of her fall.  In granting our motion for summary judgment, the trial court agreed with our position that plaintiff had no evidence of any defect in the ramp and, therefore, no evidence that any negligence on the part of the defendants caused the injury.  The court specifically rejected plaintiff’s argument that the sound of the jackhammer alone, without further evidence of any defect in the ramp itself, was enough to create an issue of fact and survive summary judgment.

Dukor v. City of Chicago and SCC, Inc., 2014 L 9465