Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Monday, November 13, 2023


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Plaintiff in Slip-and-Fall Case Need Not Pinpoint Nature of Slippery Substance, C.A. Declares

Justices Reinstate Action Alleging That City’s Boat RampConstituted a ‘Dangerous Condition’ of Public Property


By a MetNews Staff Writer


A city failed to show that there was no triable issue of fact in an action under Government Code §835 for an injury stemming from a dangerous condition on public property, Div. Three of the Fourth District Court of Appeal has held, rejecting the theory that the plaintiff in a slip-and-fall case was obliged to identify the precise nature of the slippery substance that led to his injury.

The unpublished opinion by Justice Thomas A. Delaney reverses a summary judgment granted by Riverside Superior Court Judge Carol A. Greene in favor of the City of Lake Elsinore and against plaintiff Samari Doby who slipped on a concrete boat launch ramp that was covered with a foreign substance.

The city was liable, he maintained, because the failure to maintain the ramp in a safe condition rendered it a danger.

Delaney wrote:

“To meet its burden on the summary judgment motion, the City submitted excerpts from Doby’s deposition testimony wherein Doby testified he had ‘no idea’ of the exact composition of the ‘dark, wet slippery foreign substance’ on the ramp. It contends that Doby was required to identify and prove the specific substance that caused him to slip and fall to satisfy his prima facie case for dangerous condition of public property under section 835. There is no precedent for such a requirement.”

He continued:

“The City relies on language from cases involving demurrers to support its contention that Doby was required to establish the exact composition of the foreign substance to state a claim under section 835….

“Those cases, however, only require that the factual allegations provide the public entity with sufficient notice of the theory of liability and comport with the essential elements of the statutory claim.”

The case is Doby v. City of Lake Elsinore, G062734.

Mid-Wilshire attorney David Azizi represented Doby. Harvey W. Wimer III, Victor Wear, and Brandan J. Coughlin of the Riverside firm of Graves & King put forth the city’s position.


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