Lee v. La Quinta Holdings, Inc., A-3263-17, 2019 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 339 (App. Div. Feb. 11, 2019)

When a commercial landowner complies with the “bare minimum” safety standards required by law and there are no witnesses or explanation as to the circumstances of the accident, summary judgment in favor of defendant is appropriate.

As defense counsel, sometimes we are faced with heartbreaking facts of undeniable accidents. However, it is important to remain confident that the mere happening of an accident, no matter the severity, does not prove negligence. Here, the plaintiff’s daughter drowned in a pool at a La Quinta Inn & Suites. The plaintiff brought a wrongful death suit, arguing the defendant failed to comply with certain aquatic safety standards. The plaintiff also conceded that the defendant complied with the “bare minimum” required by law. Because the plaintiff could not particularly identify how the defendant’s failure to comply with industry customs regarding aquatic safety caused her daughter’s fatality, nor were there any witnesses to speak to the circumstances of the decedent’s death, the trial court granted summary judgment in the defendant’s favor. The Appellate Division affirmed, finding that industry customs regarding aquatic safety do not, without more, establish a standard of care. 


Case Law Alerts, 2nd Quarter, April 2019

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