Airline summary judgment motion denied in another trip and fall case

Doris v. Allegheny County Airport Authority and U.S. Airways, Inc. (W.D. Pa. Dec. 8, 2006).  Rather than waiting for the wheelchair he had requested that the airline provide, the elderly passenger decided to walk up the jetway on his own.  He “retrieved his wife’s walker from the jetway and placed both his and his wife’s carry-on luggage on top of the walker” and then pushed the loaded walker up the jetway.  Not surprisingly, he tripped over an expansion joint on the jetway floor and fell.

In the passenger’s lawsuit, the airline moved for summary judgment on the grounds that the expansion joint was an open and obvious condition, that the passenger had assumed the risk by walking up the jetway and that he had not exercised ordinary care because “he was not looking where he was walking.”  The court denied the motion, holding that there are material facts in dispute as to whether the expansion joint was an obviously dangerous condition, whether the defendants were negligent by not providing a warning sign or handrail near the joint and whether the passenger had exercised ordinary care.

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