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Show Me The Facts (PA)

December 10, 2021

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<p style="text-align: justify;">In <em><a href="">Gayle</a> Staiger and John Staiger v. Weis Markets, Inc.,</em> d/b/a Weis Markets, a customer of Weis Markets filed suit against the store after she allegedly slipped and fell while browsing the beverage isle. Gayle Straiger, and her husband John Staiger, asserted claims of negligence and loss of consortium against Weis Markets for failing to properly maintain the premises. However, the sole factual allegation contained in the complaint was that Gayle Staiger “believes and avers that there must have been a substance in the aisle which caused her to fall.” Properly identifying the lack of factual averments in the complaint, Weis Markets moved to have the case dismissed for failure to state a claim. The Court agreed with Weis Markets and dismissed the complaint in its entirety.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">To establish a claim under premises liability, a plaintiff is required to allege the existence of a dangerous condition on the premises that creates an unreasonable risk of harm to the invitees. In this case, rather than providing factual averments detailing the existence of such a condition, Gayle Staiger simple alleged that her fall “must have been” caused by a spilled substance, because otherwise she would not have fallen. The Court was not satisfied with this lone factual averment. The Court noted that under Pennsylvania law, the “mere fact that an accident occurred does not give rise to an inference that the injured person was the victim of negligence.” Based on Gayle Straiger’s bare-bone complaint, this is exactly what she was asking the Court to infer.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Pennsylvania is a “fact pleading” state, meaning a complaint must aver sufficient facts upon which a claim for relief can be supported. Here, Weis Market’s attorneys rightly spotted the deficiency in the lawsuit brought against it and brought the case to a quick end by filing a Motion to Dismiss.</p>
Thanks to Brian Zappala for his contribution to this post. Please contact <a href="">Heather Aquino</a> with any questions.


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