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Plaintiff's Inconsistent Accident Accounts Were Fatal to His Claim (PA)

September 19, 2019

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<p style="text-align: justify;">Recently in<em> <a href="https://www.wcmlaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Yarweh-v.-Greyhound-Lines-LLC.pdf">Yarweh v. Greyhound Lines, LLC</a></em>, (E.D. Pa. Sept. 6, 2019) Plaintiff appealed an arbitration verdict, seeking a trial <em>de novo</em>. However, the Court granted Defendant’s motion for summary judgment before that trial could be held.  The Court found, among other reasons, that the Plaintiff’s inconsistent statements about the alleged slip and fall incident were both a genuine issue of material fact as well as a question of testimony credibility.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Plaintiff was a passenger on the Greyhound buses, headed to Pittsburgh PA.  It was raining during the trip and the bus made several stops where passengers boarded and exited the bus.  When Plaintiff went to exit the bus at a later stop, he noticed that the aisle was wet, but did not note if the steps were also wet.  He slipped and fell on the wet substance and was injured.   Defendant moved for summary judgment for several reasons, one being that the the Plaintiff had three different sworn accounts for the slip and fall.  Defendant argued that this created an absence of evidence to support the Plaintiff’s claim of negligence.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">The Court found that Plaintiff’s inconsistent statements were fatal to his claim, because  “a party cannot create a genuine issue of fact sufficient to survive summary judgment simply by contradicting his or her own previous sworn statement ... without explaining the contradiction or attempting to resolve the disparity.” <em>Cleveland v. Policy Mgmt. Sys. Corp.</em>, 526 U.S. 795, 806, 119 S.Ct. 1597, 143 L.Ed.2d 966 (1999).  The Court also found that a Plaintiff “cannot simply ignore” a contradiction. <em>Detz v. Greiner Indus</em>., 346 F.3d 109, 116 (3rd Cir. 2003).   Plaintiff failed to explain the discrepancies in several sworn accounts of the slip and fall, thus producing an issue of credibility and failing to prove negligence on behalf of Defendant. Furthermore, the Court stated that Plaintiff solely relied on circumstantial evidence of the wet steps, and did not prove that Defendant breached their duty of care.  Consequently, the Court granted Defendant’s motion for summary judgment.   Thanks to Emily Finnegan for her contribution to this post.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Please email <a href="mailto:BGibbons@wcmlaw.com">Brian Gibbons</a> with any questions.</p>

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