Walter Klekotka (Mount Laurel, NJ) and Walter Kawalec (Mount Laurel, NJ) were successful in defending a grant of summary judgment in the New Jersey Appellate Division that resulted in a published opinion. Our clients were the owner and manager of an apartment complex for seniors. The plaintiff/resident had returned from walking her dog and alleged she received injuries entering the elevator. She had allowed the dog to enter first when the doors began to close. She alleged injuries occurred when the right door struck her arm and when she used her left arm and the left side of her body to slow the doors from closing while she leapt into the elevator.

She sued our clients and the company hired to maintain the elevator, but she was unable to establish any proof of negligence. The trial judge dismissed the case, declining to apply the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur, in part, because the plaintiff could not establish the third element of the doctrine: that the injury did not result from the plaintiff’s own voluntary act or neglect. On appeal, the plaintiff argued that the Appellate Division should eliminate this third element. The Appellate Division, in a published opinion, concluded that the third element is a well-established law in New Jersey and only the New Jersey Supreme Court could eliminate it, and that court has shown no inclination to do so. Because the plaintiff could not demonstrate the third prong, res ipsa was not applicable, and the failure of the plaintiff to establish negligence resulted in summary judgment in the defendants’ favor.