Dudley v. Bella Vista Realty Co.
To prevail on a negligence claim, a plaintiff must prove duty, breach of duty, causation and injury. On Jan. 7, 2010, an elevator at 311 Eastern Street in New Haven allegedly did not come to a level stop with the floor, and the plaintiff passenger, Julia Dudley, allegedly fell and hit her head when she exited the elevator. Dudley, a tenant in an elderly housing community, sued the Bella Vista Realty Co. and Schindler Elevator Corp. Dudley alleged that Schindler failed to maintain the elevator, which allegedly stopped three-fourths of an inch to one inch above the lobby floor. Schindler, which allegedly was responsible for maintaining the elevators, moved for summary judgment and argued its mechanics inspected the elevators twice in November 2009, and it received no complaints and lacked actual or constructive notice of the alleged defect. The plaintiff objected that Schindler received actual notice, because in December 2009 another resident was in a wheelchair and became stuck in a gap between the elevator and the floor. The plaintiff's expert, George Gdovin, claimed that the elevators at 311 Eastern Street experienced chronic issues with stopping level with the floor. Allegedly, repair orders submitted to the defendant before the plaintiff's fall documented the elevator's technical issues. Schindler objected that the other resident was injured in December 2010, as opposed to December 2009, and that the repair orders that allegedly documented technical issues were not related to any failure to come to a level stop with the floor. There were genuine issues of material fact concerning the defendant's negligence, and the court denied the defendant's motion for summary judgment.