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 ? inch above the surface of the deck, was observed by several of the plaintiff’s co-workers, shortly after the fall had occurred. During discovery, plaintiff’s counsel determined that the defendant had failed to obtain the building permits prior to performing the subject repairs. In addition, a 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 leminectomy.
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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