Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Poyner v. Loftus case brief

Poyner v. Loftus case summary
694 A.2d 69 (D.C. Ct. App. 1997)
Tort Law

PROCEDURAL HISTORY: Plaintiff, who was legally blind, appealed from a judgment entered by the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, which granted summary judgment for defendants, building owners, property manager, and proprietor, on plaintiff's claim for damages as a result of personal injuries sustained after he fell from an elevated walkway outside a retail establishment.

-Plaintiff testified that he could see only approximately six to eight feet in front of him. -Notwithstanding his handicap, plaintiff did not use a cane or seeing eye dog in pursing his daily activities.
-Plaintiff testified that he had walked to the retail establishment on three or four previous occasions and knew the lay out.
-However, on the day of his injury, a bush had been removed from the edge of the elevated walkway. -As he was walking, someone called his name.
-He turned his head, but continued to walk forward to where he thought the bush would be.
-He fell, suffering injuries.
-The trial court granted summary judgment for defendants, concluding that plaintiff was contributorily negligent.

-A blind or otherwise handicapped person, in using the public ways, must exercise for his own safety due care, or care commensurate with the known or reasonably foreseeable dangers.
-Due care is such care as an ordinarily prudent person with the same disability would exercise under the same or similar circumstances

-On appeal, the court affirmed, ruling that the defense of contributory negligence was established as a matter of law based on plaintiff's testimony.
-The court reasoned that plaintiff was required to use due care under the circumstances and due care included reasonable efforts to compensate for his handicap.
-In this case, plaintiff admitted that he was alone, he used no cane or seeing eye dog as an aid, and he looked away at the critical moment when he could have seen the hazard.

CONCLUSION: The court affirmed the trial court's grant of summary judgment in favor of defendants and dismissed plaintiff's complaint for damages arising from personal injury.

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