A lawsuit involving a man who suffered a slip-and-fall injury in a YMCA parking lot can proceed, a New York appeals court ruled last week.
Daniel Potter and his wife, Cheryl, are plaintiffs seeking damages from the YMCA of Kingston and Ulster County related to the February 2013 incident. Potter is part owner of Potter Brothers Ski and Snowboard Shops in Ulster, Poughkeepsie and Fishkill.
Potter filed the suit five months after the fall alleging negligence. He argued that the YMCA did not have adequate lighting in the parking lot and did not adequately maintain the parking lot for winter conditions, according to court documents. He claimed he could not see the parking lot surface because it was "quite dark" and fell on ice minutes before the YMCA opened at 5:30 a.m., according to court documents. Potter lost consciousness and suffered four broken ribs as a result of the fall, according to court documents.
The Third Judicial Department of the New York Supreme Court Appellate Division denied the YMCA's motion to dismiss the suit through summary judgment on Feb. 25. The court ruled that the YMCA failed to establish as a matter of law that precipitation from a storm in progress was the sole proximate cause of Potter's fall. The YMCA also failed to establish it was not negligent in its lighting of the parking lot or such negligence did not contribute to Potter's fall, the court said.
Potter's attorney, Derek Spada, expects a settlement offer of as much as $75,000 and does not expect the case to go to trial as scheduled on March 21, but YMCA attorney Matthew Kelly disagreed with Spada's claim, according to a Daily Freeman report.
YMCA CEO Heidi Kirschner explained that the Y's contract with a snow and ice removal vendor was "purely a plowing contract," and a request to treat ice would result in an additional services bill, according to court's decision.
"Considering the significant precipitation two days prior to the alleged storm in progress, Potter's observations that the ice had been accumulating in the parking lot prior to the morning of the accident and the concession that the defendant's only snow and ice maintenance during February would have been plowing, material issues of fact preclude summary judgment," the court stated.
The court determined that evidence regarding the parking lot's lighting on the day of the injury revealed material questions of fact that required a trial.
"Defendant's submissions contained both contradictory proof as to whether defendant's parking lot lights were functioning at the time of the accident and the deposition testimony from Potter's spouse, who explained that, at the time of the accident, it was too dark to see the ice on the surface of the parking lot," the court stated.
Below are court documents in the case compiled by the Daily Freeman.