Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Friday, May 15, 2020


Page 3


Ninth Circuit:

Summary Judgment for Government Proper In Reagan Courthouse Slip-and-Fall Case


By a MetNews Staff Writer


The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday affirmed a determination that the walkway outside the Ronald Reagan Federal Building and Courthouse at 411 West Fourth Street in Santa Ana does not constitute a dangerous condition.

Arthur Lopez sued the United States over a “traumatic fall suffered on December 22nd, 2015” which, he said in his complaint, caused permanent injuries and have “dramatically impacted” his quality of life. The walkway, wet from rain, created “an extremely dangerous condition,” he averred.

He sought compensatory damages of $1 million, plus actual damages, attorney fees and costs.

Summary Judgment Granted

District Court Judge David O. Carter of the Central District of California—whose courtroom is in the Santa Ana facility—on Feb. 4, 2019, granted summary judgment to the government based on a declaration from Mark Blanchette, a biomechanics expert, that the he walkway is slip-resistant under both wet and dry conditions.

“Plaintiff did not set forth any evidence to counter Mr. Blanchette’s findings.” he wrote.

Carter concluded that the walkway presented no more than a “trivial risk.”

Lopez sought reconsideration, proclaiming he had found an expert who viewed Blanchette’s testing methods deficient. He wanted his own expert to do a test on the walkway.

Reconsideration Denied

The judge responded on Dec. 6, 2019, that this was not new evidence because Lopez could have located an expert with a competing view before judgment was granted.

“The Court will not allow Mr. Lopez to relitigate this case that has been already decided on the merits and will not consider Plaintiff’s request to conduct additional testing at the courthouse,” he declared.

A three judge panel affirmed yesterday in a memorandum opinion. Summary judgment was appropriately granted, it said, “because Lopez failed to raise a genuine dispute of material fact as to whether the walkway” constituted :a dangerous condition.”

“To the extent that Lopez challenges the district court’s order denying his reconsideration motion,” the panel said, “we lack jurisdiction over that decision because Lopez did not file an amended notice of appeal.”

The case is Lopez v. United States, 19-55162.


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