Nanty-Glo Rule Saves Pocono Pet Store (PA)
In Lori Monti v. Pet Supplies Plus LLC, et al. plaintiff Lori Monti (“Monti”) tripped and fell outside of a pet store on an alleged sidewalk defect. Monti claimed that there was a dip in the sidewalk, which was surrounded by loose pieces of gravel. She alleged her walker became entrapped in the dip, which caused her to fall and sustain serious bodily injuries. Monti filed suit against Pet Supplies Plus, who then joined its landlord Pocono Retail Associates to the matter. Ultimately, motions for summary judgment were granted for both defendants. Monti then appealed arguing the trial court erred in finding the sidewalk defect to be trivial and failing to find Pet Supplies Plus acted negligently by allowing gravel to exist on the sidewalk.
According to the Superior Court, the facts alleged by Monti are insufficient to overcome a motion for summary judgment. On the date of the alleged incident, Monti and her sister were together. However, a friend of Monti’s returned to the scene approximately 45 minutes later and took aerial photographs of the alleged sidewalk defect. Pocono Retail Associates had produced an expert letter that discussed the triviality of the sidewalk defect. Monti argued on appeal that this letter violated Pennsylvania’s Nanty-Glo rule. The rule states that oral testimony alone cannot be used to demonstrate that there is no genuine of issue of material fact unless it is supported by admissions by an opposing party or opposing party’s witness. The Superior Court acknowledged that Pocono Retail Associates paired its report with Monti’s own testimony from her deposition. Specifically, she testified that the wheel of her walker became stuck in an expansion joint in the sidewalk and that she returned to the sidewalk months later and it “looked fine”. The Court also rejected Monti’s argument on the grounds that she did not provide any evidence, reports or testimony to support her claims except for two aerial photographs that do not clearly show a defect. She herself testified that had no one told her about the dip in the sidewalk, she would not have known what had happened.
In regard to her negligence argument against Pet Supplies Plus, the Court remained unconvinced. It stated that Monti did not provide any evidence to show that Pet Supplies Plus had notice of a dangerous condition—the alleged gravel—or caused said dangerous condition. Therefore, the trial court’s decision was affirmed. This case demonstrates that landowners can still fight and win when plaintiffs have little evidence of a defect other than some photographs and sympathy.
Thanks to Gabrielle Outlaw for her post. Please contact Vincent Terrasi with any questions or comments.