Articles Posted in Premises Liability

Downtown Nashville Building Collapse Causes Serious Injuries

A 58-year-old woman was seriously injured after a wall of the United Methodist Publishing House crumbled and fell onto her catering truck as she was driving near the area.

According to a report by, the accident occurred Thursday morning near the intersection of 8th Avenue and Demonbreun. The woman’s injuries require that she be transported to Vanderbilt University Medical Center to receive treatment, but they are believed to be non-life-threatening. Her daughter told reporters that her condition is still being evaluated.

Students at Ole Miss University and residents in the surrounding community of Oxford, Mississippi are mourning the death of a student after an unexpected sledding accident last month. A senior at Ole Miss, and a member of the Phi Psi fraternity, was killed after he hit a street sign near campus while riding in a kayak. According to a local news report, the students were taking advantage of a rare snow day by sledding down a snow covered hill in the Highland Square neighborhood when the victim lost control, hit a road sign, and was ejected from his kayak and killed.

sleigh-ride-3-928447-mStorms and winter weather increase the dangers on Tennessee roads and complicate most other activities that residents are involved in. People are at an increased risk of slipping and falling when entering and exiting homes and businesses, and other dangers like sledding come with the season as well. Winter accidents come in many sorts and can have a variety of causes, but as a general rule business and property owners are liable for the increased dangers that the winter weather brings to their property.

Premises Liability Lawsuits in Tennessee and the Issue of Foreseeability

In Tennessee, a property owner can be held responsible for injuries and deaths that occur on their property as a result of their own negligence or failure to warn. Property owners have a duty to maintain the safety of their premises and protect members of the public against foreseeable harm. This does not mean a property owner is automatically responsible for any injuries suffered on their property. An owner can only be held liable for injuries that can be reasonably foreseen under the circumstances. This foreseeability requirement is designed to prevent property owners from being held financially responsible for harms that they could or should have never seen coming.

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traffic-cone-1173007-mThe doctrine of premises liability provides that the owners and occupiers of land owe a certain duty to those who are on their property. Depending on the relationship between the parties, one of several levels of duties arises. The highest duty owed is to customers of businesses.

However, even this duty has its limits. As a recent case out of Rhode Island points out, the public sidewalk next to a private business is not the responsibility of the business to maintain.

In the recent case Maguire v. City of Providence, the plaintiff was a handicapped woman who was injured while on the sidewalk outside of an Old Navy store. Evidently, the woman’s crutch slipped on a small hole in the sidewalk, and she fell to the ground as a result. A few months later, she filed a lawsuit against Old Navy as well as another business nearby.

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Last January, a young man with Down Syndrome was killed by police officers moonlighting as security guards in a Baltimore movie theater when he tried to sneak into a movie without a valid ticket. According to news reports released at the time, the police officers handcuffed the nearly 300-pound man, dragged him out of the movie theater on his stomach, and dropped him on the ground. At some point during the confrontation, the man entered cardiac arrest and died a short time later.

chair-theater-1107994-mAfter his death, the man’s parents brought suit against several defendants, including the individual officers as well as the owner of the theater, Regal Cinemas, a Tennessee corporation. The claims against the defendants were several, but they included mostly allegations of gross negligence, violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and “failure to train” claims against the State of Tennessee.

According to a recent news article, the judge presiding over the case heard the plaintiffs’ claims in an early proceeding in order to determine which claims had merit and should proceed to trial. The judge determined that all claims against the movie theater should be dismissed, since the movie theater was justified in asking the security officers to remove a man who had entered the theater without a ticket.

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