Partner Joe Petka defended a local university in a premises jury trial. The plaintiff, a fifty-four-year-old homemaker, went to the university’s bursar’s office to pay a tuition bill. While walking on the campus, she crossed a plot of land that the university did not technically own and tripped and fell on a defect in the sidewalk. The plaintiff fractured her elbow. At trial, the plaintiff testified that she continued to have pain and limitations with her elbow and arm.
Plaintiff’s counsel argued that since the slice of the property was within the campus boundaries and just feet from a university sidewalk, the university had a duty to ensure the sidewalk was safe for its students and visitors. Joe argued that the university had no authority to make repairs or changes to property it did not own. Moreover, there was no evidence that the university was even aware of the defective condition.
Ultimately, the Philadelphia jury of 12 agreed with Joe and unanimously found that the university was not negligent.