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No need to set forth expert testimony to establish a breached duty of care when the plaintiff presents photographs and detailed measurements of the stairs upon which he fell and his description of the circumstances.

January 1, 2019
Katz v. Voorhees, No. A-5225-16, 2018 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 2576 (App. Div. Nov. 26, 2018) (per curiam)

When visiting the defendant’s home for a service call in the course of his employment, the plaintiff, an air-conditioning technician, fell backward down a flight of stairs and sustained physical injuries. The plaintiff sued the defendant, arguing the defendant failed to warn him about the particular flight of stairs, which had unusually steep risers with narrow treads. The plaintiff presented testimony of a premises liability expert, who opined the defendant was negligent. The defendant moved for summary judgment on the basis that the plaintiff’s expert rendered a net opinion. The court agreed and granted summary judgment for the defendant. The New Jersey Appellate Division reversed and remanded because “average persons could readily understand the potential hazards presented by undersized, wet stairs encountered with inadequate lighting and no warning.” Thus, this case should warn defense counsel that New Jersey judges may be lenient in requiring expert testimony in cases where the hazard appears to be within common knowledge.


Case Law Alerts, 1st Quarter, January 2019

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