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Reeves v. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority

Court of Appeals of Columbia District

April 14, 2016

ATIYA K. REEVES, APPELLANT,
v.
WASHINGTON METROPOLITAN AREA TRANSIT AUTHORITY, APPELLEE

         Argued March 10, 2016.

Page 808

          Appeal from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. (CAB-810-14). (Hon. Herbert B. Dixon, Jr., Trial Judge).

         Patrick G. Senftle, with whom John H. Schroth was on the brief, for appellant.

         Michael K. Guss, Associate General Counsel, WMATA, with whom Gerard J. Stief, Chief Counsel, Appeals & Special Litigation, and Patricia B. Donkor, Assistant General Counsel, were on the brief, for appellee.

         BEFORE: BLACKBURNE-RIGSBY and EASTERLY, Associate Judges; and REID, Senior Judge.

          OPINION

Page 809

         JUDGMENT

         Reid, Senior Judge :

         This case came to be heard on the transcript of record and the briefs filed, and was argued by counsel. On consideration whereof, and as set forth in the opinion filed this date, it is now hereby

         ORDERED and ADJUDGED that the orders of the trial court are vacated, and the case is remanded for further proceedings.

         In this personal injury, slip and fall case appellant, Atiya K. Reeves, appeals the trial court's order granting summary judgment and the court's order denying her motion for reconsideration. She claims, in essence, that the trial court erred by ruling in favor of appellee, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (" WMATA" ), as a matter of law with respect to her claim of negligence. For the reasons stated below, we vacate the orders of the trial court and remand this case for further proceedings.

         FACTUAL SUMMARY

         The record reveals that on February 24, 2011, at around 5:30 pm, Ms. Reeves slipped and fell on the floor just inside the pay gates at the Archives-Navy Memorial-Penn Quarter Metro station (the " Archives Metro station" ). She filed a negligence complaint against WMATA on February 12, 2014, alleging, inter alia, that her " fall was the direct and proximate result of the unsafe and hazardous condition of the Metrorail station's floor tiles," and that WMATA's failure " to warn or advise [her] of the unsafe and hazardous condition" was the proximate cause of her fall and resulting injuries. Following discovery, WMATA filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing (1) " there is no evidence of an unreasonably dangerous condition," and (2) " no reasonable jury could find in favor of [Ms. Reeves] under a failure to warn theory."

         Attached to WMATA's motion were excerpts from the deposition testimony of Ms. Reeves' engineering expert, Dr. Gregory Harrison, excerpts from Ms. Reeves' deposition testimony, and a statement of undisputed facts. WMATA asserted that Dr. Harrison " rejected any claim that warning signs could have led to a different outcome here." [1] However, Dr. Harrison also testified that as floors age, they " lose their slip resistance characteristics." He explained that at a minimum, for a floor surface to provide adequate slip resistance for safety purposes, the coefficient of friction[2] of the floor surface should exceed .45. Dr. Harrison's expert opinion, derived from testing and his review of the record in this case, was that the coefficient of friction for the Archives Metro station floor surface around where Ms. Reeves fell was " well below .5" within " a number range of .3 to .35." In laymen's terms, he described the station floor's " dry condition [as] anything but slip resistant[,] and when wet it's treacherous." [3]

         Ms. Reeves filed an opposition to WMATA's motion, as well as a motion for reconsideration after the trial court granted WMATA's motion for summary judgment.

Page 810

Attached to Ms. Reeves' opposition memorandum was a " statement of material facts for which there is a genuine issue," excerpts from her deposition, her affidavit, the affidavit of Dr. Harrison, and a television news report. She attached to her motion for reconsideration excerpts from her deposition, her supplemental affidavit, excerpts from the deposition testimony of WMATA's station manager at ...


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