PA Commonwealth Court Case,Sanchez-Guardiola v. City of Philadelphia
Under Pennsylvania law, the City of Philadelphia may be liable for fall down accidents which occur at the Philadelphia International Airport. The usual basis of liability in fall down accident cases at the airport is a special law, the real property exception to the Pennsylvania Political Subdivision Tort Claims Act. Read more about airport injuries and accidents in Philadelphia.
Sanchez-Guardiola v. City of Philadelphia is a recent Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court Case (March 2014) which discusses the real property exception in the context of an airport fall accident case.
In this case, the plaintiff was walking between two airport terminals with her family when she tripped over a movable platform. She walked over to a Phillies Fanatic statue to take a picture and tripped over a short 12 inch platform which was difficult to see because it matched the color of the carpeting. She sustained major back injuries.
The trial court ultimately dismissed her case and held that because the mechanism of injury (thing which caused the fall accident) was a movable platform, it did not fall under the real property exception.
On appeal, the Commonwealth Court agreed and reiterated that in Pennsylvania, government entities can only be held liable for an accident that involves 1. things which are affixed to the property or 2. the care of things affixed to the property. The court discussed several prior cases in which government entities have been held liable for accidents that involved the care and maintenance of the real property itself. For instance, a government entity was liable for using paint thinner to clean the floor of a firehouse which resulted in a fire. The court also discussed prior cases in which government entities were held not liable; they involved movable items or things not affixed to the property, i.e., personal property such as, picnic tables, mats, bleachers, folding tables, etc.
Because the thing which caused the accident in the Sanchez-Guardiola case was a movable platform and not affixed to the property, the court held that it was personal property more like a picnic table or bleacher. Therefore, the plaintiff lost her appeal.
If You’ve Been Injured in an Accident at the Philadelphia Airport
If you were injured in an accident at the Philadelphia Airport, you must speak to an accident lawyer immediately. Under the Act, there are many prerequisites to filing a successful lawsuit against a government entity. One crucial prerequisite is the 180 day or 6 month notice deadline which requires an injured individual to put the correct government office on notice of the accident. Failure to do so may result in dismissal of the case.
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