Our premises liability attorneys took on a case where the plaintiff was caused to fall while descending a stairway on a recently repaired wooden staircase located on premises controlled by the defendant. The cause of the fall was a protruding nail that had been driven upward during the repair efforts earlier in the day. The protruding nail, which was estimated at approximately inches above the surface of the deck, was observed by several of the plaintiff’s co-workers, shortly after the fall had occurred. During discovery, the plaintiff’s counsel determined that the defendant had failed to obtain the building permits prior to performing the subject repairs. In addition, deposition of the city building inspector disclosed that the stairway, as repaired, was deficient in several respects, including the absence of a right side, descending handrail.
As a direct result of her fall, the plaintiff suffered a herniated disc, requiring her to undergo a laminectomy.
The case presented a number of premises liability issues, most significant of which were notice and causation with respect to the role of the missing handrail. Following a failed effort at mediation, the plaintiff served a 93A letter of demand upon the defendant, citing the statutory violation of the building code as a basis for the claim. Shortly thereafter, the defendant agreed to resume mediation whereupon the case was settled.
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