Court Prevents Slip-and-Fall Plaintiff from Making Argument on Appeal Because It Was Not Made at Trial

Earlier this week, an appellate court in Rhode Island issued a written opinion in a premises liability case brought by the parents of a young boy who was injured while playing baseball in a park owned and operated by the defendant city. Ultimately, the court determined that although the plaintiff presented evidence on appeal that the defendant city knew of the alleged hazard prior to their son’s injury, it could not be considered on appeal because the evidence was not presented at trial.

Baseball DiamondThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was participating in a baseball game in a park that was maintained by the defendant city. As the plaintiff was sliding into home base, his right foot and shin slid under the edge of the plate, which had been lifted due to repeated use. As the boy tried to stand, he broke his leg in two places.

A few months after the accident, the boy’s parents filed a personal injury lawsuit against the city, alleging that it had failed to safely maintain the field. In response, the city claimed that it was immune from the lawsuit due to the state’s recreational use statute. The plaintiff’s attorney issued a general objection to the application of the recreational use statute, but failed to provide a specific basis for the objection.

The trial judge granted the city’s motion for summary judgment, finding that there was no reason not to apply recreational use immunity. The plaintiffs appealed.

On appeal, the plaintiffs presented additional evidence in the form of a letter from another citizen claiming that she had told the city about the poor condition of the baseball diamonds at the park. The plaintiffs argued that this letter put the city on notice as to the condition of the field, and that the city’s failure to warn players was “willful or malicious.”

The appellate court, however, refused to consider the new evidence and argument because it was only brought up on appeal. The court explained that it was not permitted to consider issues that are brought for the first time on appeal. Because the plaintiffs failed to present the letter and make the relevant argument at trial, they were prevented from making the argument on appeal.

Have You Been Injured on Public Property?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured on public property, you may be entitled to monetary compensation; however, you may encounter issues of governmental immunity that can complicate your case. The skilled personal injury team at Charles B. Roberts & Associates has extensive experience handling all types of personal injury and wrongful death cases, including those arising from slip-and-fall accidents. Call 703-491-7070 to schedule a free consultation with a dedicated personal injury attorney to discuss your case and determine what actions you can take to pursue your claim.

See More Blog Posts:

Proof of Causation Is Imperative in Virginia Slip-and-Fall Cases, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, February 22, 2017.

Court Determines School’s Efforts to Melt Snow in Parking Lot Did Not Increase the Chance of Student’s Slip-and-Fall Accident, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, March 6, 2017.