Premises Liability

Walters Richardson defends companies under allegation of injuries caused to those on their premises. Whether the issue be a slip and fall case, electricity defects, or security issues, our attorneys are equipped to investigate all elements of the situation in order to ascertain the best possible defense for the property owner. Should litigation be necessary, our attorneys are prepared to handle any case that they receive by conceiving the most effective strategies. The protection of the property owner is the first priority of the attorneys at Walters Richardson.

Our team of attorneys has experience with a variety of premises liability claims, ranging from claims of alleged property defects to negligent maintenance. We have also represented a variety of defendants, ranging from a homeowner sued after a slip and fall on his property to a nationwide franchisee sued for catastrophic injuries sustained on one of its restaurant locations. We understand that while a property owner has a duty to people who are invited to the property, the reasonableness of the owner’s actions will vary based on the circumstances. Our attorneys are committed to a fact-intensive inquiry to determine exactly what happened in order to protect you from liability. 

Our attorneys have experience defending the interests of its clients in premises liability matters from pre-litigation all the way to the Kentucky Supreme Court, obtaining outstanding results in the process.

Attorneys at Walters Richardson also understand that successful business owners have hundreds of visitors to their property every day, and we are responsive to your needs by providing prompt updates on the status of your case and the ever evolving law of premises liability. 

Representative matters:

November 2019, Jefferson County, KYPate v. Settle. Melissa Richardson and Ryan Glass successfully obtained summary judgment for their client. Defendant rented a dumpster for his tenant to use during efforts to remediate the property.  Plaintiff was allegedly helping the tenant with the remediation efforts.  In doing so, Plaintiff placed a nightstand next to the dumpster and stood on the nightstand to make additional room in the dumpster.  No one instructed Plaintiff to do this.  Plaintiff fell off the nightstand and broke his hip.  Plaintiff alleged he was hired by Defendant to remediate one of Defendant’s rental properties. Defendant denied this.  Plaintiff filed suit alleging Defendant “retained control of a dumpster with improper and/or absent safety measures that was brought onto the property for the common use of all persons.” The Court ruled Defendant could not foresee Plaintiff would be injured by the allegedly dangerous condition that Plaintiff himself created and thus that the Defendant did not breach any duty.

August 2019, Fayette County, KY:  Jensen v. Fright Nights, LLC.  Melissa Richardson and Ben Harris successfully obtained a unanimous defense verdict on liability.  Plaintiff fell on a haunted trail on Halloween night in 2016.  After initially telling staff she fell because she was running, she subsequently indicated she fell because she tripped on a root that she could not see because it was too dark along the forest trail.  The Jury heard testimony about the company’s safety policy that was in effect at the time, how all employees were trained on that policy, and how the policy was executed on a daily basis.  The Jury also heard about the efforts undertaken to prepare and maintain the trail each day the event was in operation (this included adding mulch daily to the trial and ensuring that the lighting along the entirety of the trail was working).  Plaintiff did not identify the root or have pictures taken of the root at any point close in time to when she fell.  Instead, Plaintiff provided the jury with a photo of the alleged root that was taken nearly a year and a half after the fall (February 2018) and at a time when Fright Nights was obviously not in operation.  Plaintiff and her boyfriend testified the photograph of the trail was “consistent with their memory” but Fright Nights’ employees and City inspectors confirmed the photograph in no way reflected what the path would ever look like when Fright Nights was operating.  As a result, the Jury found that Fright Nights did not breach its duty of reasonable care.  See KTCR Report.

2018, Kentucky Court of AppealsChilders v. Hard Shell Tactical, LLC. In a matter of first impression,  Melissa Thompson Richardson and  Ryan Becker successfully argued for a client's immunity from civil prosecution in a wrongful death matter. The Court of Appeals reversed the Circuit Court’s Order and held that Hard Shell Tactical, LLC was immune from civil prosecution under KRS 503.085.

September 2018, Fayette County, KY:  Johnny Doe v. Kids House, et. al.  Melissa Richardson and David Noble successfully defended their clients, a daycare, its owner, and its director. A daycare employee was in an altercation with a ten year old student. The student struck her in the eye. She angrily left the student, returned 23 seconds later, and struck the student several times.  The entire encounter was captured on videotape. Prior to trial,  the Court dismissed claims for vicarious liability, negligent hiring, negligent training, negligent retention, and negligent supervision on Summary Judgment. At the close of Plaintiffs’ case, the Court granted a Directed Verdict Motion for the $500,000 claim of emotional distress. The Court agreed that Plaintiffs had not provided sufficient expert or medical testimony to support the claim. Plaintiff still claimed $175,000 in pain and suffering and $500,0000 in punitive damages. Just prior to closing arguments, Plaintiffs requested to settle the case the amount that had been offered 14 months prior at mediation and reiterated through an Offer of Judgment that was filed shortly after mediation.

January 2018, Meade County, KYCassidy Daugherty v. Scared and Cornfused, Inc., a/k/a Field of Screams. Mrs. Richardson and Mr. Pettijohn obtained a verdict in favor of an outdoor haunted attraction. Plaintiff fell at the premises and sustained two ankle fractures. Her recovery was complicated by blood clots and several surgeries. However, the Defense was able to successfully establish that Field of Screams did not breach its duty to provide a reasonably safe premises as it performed routine inspections, provided adequate lighting, and multiple warnings of potential hazards were posted, among other considerations. After this three day trial, the jury returned a unanimous defense verdict within 20 minutes of deliberation.  See KTCR Report.

November 2017, Kentucky Court of Appeals:  Kendall v. Ralphie’s Fun CenterA/K/A Ralphie’s Properties, LLC. Ms. Kendall slipped and fell while bowling, fracturing her wrist.  She alleged the bowling alley had negligently applied oil to the lane on which she was bowling and failed to post adequate warnings about the hazard presented by the oil.  She and her attorney speculated that lane grease had bled past the foul line but presented no affirmative proof. The trial judge entered summary judgment after finding the Plaintiff had failed to sustain her burden of proof regarding causation. Plaintiff appealed. Her brief identified circumstantial evidence that she claimed supported her theory of causation.  The brief for the bowling alley responded with meticulous discussion of the trial court's record and relevant precedent.  In an opinion that in large part adopted the rationale presented the appellee's brief, the appellate court ruled the Plaintiff had failed to meet her burden of proof regarding causation.  Summary judgment was affirmed.

August 2017, Bullitt County, KY:  Richard Slawsky v. Knob Creek Gun Range, Inc.  Mrs. Richardson and Mr. Dawson obtained a directed verdict on behalf of Knob Creek Gun Range.  Plaintiff was weekly year-round visitor to Knob Creek Gun Range for years prior to falling in March 2015.  At that time, he noted that the weather was snowy, icy, and cold.  He had no problems walking around the premises until he finally started to go to the firing line.  At that point, he fell and fractured his tibia, which required surgical treatment with the placement of hardware.  Plaintiff was unable to state what caused him to fall.  Directed verdict was granted on the negligence claim. See KTCR Report.

August 2017, Jefferson, KY: Geisler v. Kentucky Community and Technical College SystemNo. 2016-CA-001094-MR: Plaintiff was seriously injured while descending steps of a building owned by Defendant. Defendant, a state community college, first obtained dismissal in Jefferson Circuit Court on the basis of immunity. The Court of Appeals then affirmed this dismissal and agreed with the Defendant’s arguments, ultimately holding that the Defendant, as a public education entity, met the two-prong test for governmental immunity by performing a governmental function as opposed to a proprietary one. The Appellate Court also held the trial court’s citation to unpublished authority did not run afoul of the law because its opinion was first grounded in published authority, and then bolstered by citations to express holdings in an unpublished opinion.

2017, Jefferson County, KYVeatch v. ALO. Mr. Ryan Becker obtained Summary Judgment for the ALO in this premises liability case. Plaintiff allegedly injured himself at a fundraiser which occurred at a private citizen’s house. The Court granted ALO’s Motion for Summary Judgment determining that the ALO did not owe a duty to Plaintiff as the ALO had no control over the property where the injury occurred.

March 2015, Floyd County, KY:  Maynard v. Hall. Jordan Hall fell asleep at the wheel while driving his employer’s vehicle, and, in the process, rear-ended Margie Maynard. The employer, BMM, now defunct, sold chemicals to assist with the mining industry. As a result of the employee falling asleep at the wheel, directed verdict as to Jordan Hall’s liability, represented by Walters Meadows Richardson, was granted.  However, Ms. Richardson was still able to obtain a zero verdict for Mr. Hall and BMM as the jury did not believe that the injuries claimed by the Plaintiff were caused by the accident. See KTCR Report. 

2007, Fayette Circuit Court, KY. McKean v. Barlow Homes.  A plaintiff purchased a new home and three weeks later, she stepped into her yard and fell on a depression. She sued the construction company that built her home for her medical bills, totaling $27,388 and over a quarter million dollars in pain and suffering. Walters Richardson defended the construction company and argued that not only was the depression in the yard obvious, but that the plaintiff’s husband had done a detailed inspection of the property before the couple purchased the home. Our attorneys’ zealous advocacy convinced the jury that the construction company had done nothing wrong, and as a result, the plaintiff was awarded nothing.  

1999, Floyd Circuit Court, KY 99-CI-0077. Tucker v. Childers Oil Co.  A plaintiff in Floyd County sued the owner of a BP gas station after she fell on an oily spot in the gas station parking lot. The plaintiff brought her father to testify, who told the jury that he saw the oily spot in the parking lot a few hours before the plaintiff visited. Our attorneys noted the inconsistencies in the witnesses’ testimony, and also put on proof that the plaintiff’s injuries had healed. The jury agreed and awarded a $0 verdict.  See KYTCR report.

1998, Fayette Circuit Court, KY 98-CI-2228Kelly v. Phelps. Another plaintiff, a carpenter, was injured on the job after the roof of the project collapsed. He noted that once he arrived at the site, he saw the porch was sagging and attempted to fix the sag before the collapse. He sued several entities, including the contractor, and sought $42,192 in medical bills, $65,000 in lost wages and $130,269 in impairment. Our attorneys pointed out that not only had the plaintiff recovered and was in fact earning more money than he did before the accident, but he also admitted that he was aware of the sagging roof and negligently repaired it immediately before it collapsed. Our advocacy resulted in the jury putting the plaintiff 60 percent at fault for his injuries, making the contractor responsible for only its share of a $21,046 verdict – less than a quarter of what the plaintiff originally sought in damages. Stacy v. Barlow Homes et. al, Fayette.

A renter was doing caulking work on a ladder when the ladder collapsed underneath her. One month passed before she first sought treatment for her injuries. She subsequently sued her landlord for her medical treatment and lost wages, as well as $100,000 in suffering. WMR Defense argued that not only had the plaintiff disregarded her own safety, but also pointed out the delay in treatment to the jury. The jury gave her $11,500, rejecting her claims for impairment and suffering.