Successful resolution of premises liability action.
We successfully tried a premises liability action to a defense verdict in favor of a resident’s association in the Chester County Court of Common Pleas, and also successfully defended against the plaintiff’s appeal. The plaintiff, who was a community resident (formerly married to a unit owner but not an owner herself), claimed that she tripped and fell on a tree branch on common area steps at night as a result of a burned out PECO-owned lamp, and that the Association failed to ensure that the light was fixed. The plaintiff had asked for either invitee status or a hybrid charge on duty, but the court agreed with the defense that she was able to use the common areas by permission, not by invitation, making her a licensee only. This resulted in the duty owed being only to make the property as safe as it appeared. The defense presented multiple instances of notice to PECO of the burned-out light, and the plaintiff conceded the defense contention that it could not change the bulb itself because PECO owned the lamp. The plaintiff also conceded that she had been aware of the light being out for some time. The jury unanimously found in favor of the Association and, on appeal, the Superior Court affirmed the judgment on the jury verdict, finding that the trial court did not err by charging the jury that the plaintiff was entitled only to the care due to a licensee on the property, and not an invitee.