Santos v. Mashantucket Pequot Gaming Enterprise
To prevail on a negligence claim, a plaintiff must prove that the defendant had actual or constructive notice of a dangerous condition. The plaintiff, Juanita Santos, rode a shuttle bus to the Two Trees Hotel. Allegedly, another patron commented that there was something slippery on the shuttle bus steps. The plaintiff slipped and fell on a slippery substance when she exited. The driver observed the plaintiff stumble and touch her ankle. He did not perceive a significant injury and believed the plaintiff was fine, because her companion waved. Approximately two hours later, the plaintiff was in a lounge chair when a security guard asked her to leave. She replied that she could not walk. The plaintiff went to the hospital and was diagnosed with a broken toe and a neck sprain. The plaintiff sued the Mashantucket Pequot Gaming Enterprise. A dangerous condition is one that "[existed] for such a period of time and was of such a nature that, in the exercise of reasonable care, such condition and its dangerous character should have been discovered," pursuant to 4 Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Laws, chapter 1, §1(e). The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Court was unable to find, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the defendant had actual or constructive notice of a slippery condition. There was no evidence that the driver, who was listening to the radio, heard a customer's complaint that the steps were slippery. Several customers boarded or exited, without any contact with any slippery substance. The court credited the driver's testimony that he regularly inspected the steps and did not discover a slippery substance. The evidence failed to support the plaintiff's claim that the light was inadequate. The plaintiff's witness testified that the lights turned on automatically and that the bus was brightly lit. The court did not draw an adverse inference from the failure to preserve a videotape of the incident, in part because the defendant reasonably questioned whether there was a slip and fall. The plaintiff failed to prove the defendant received actual or constructive notice of the slippery substance. The court granted judgment to the defendant.