Safety and OSHA News

Slip-and-fall at the ballgame: Dodgers sued by fan

A fan sued after slipping and falling on ice cream and peanut shells at a Los Angeles Dodgers game. The Dodgers argued they didn’t have a chance to clean up the slip hazard. What did the appeals court say? 

On Sept. 3, 2008, Fernando Maravilla fell in an aisle during a game at Dodgers Stadium. For the record, the Dodgers won 6-4 that night over the San Diego Padres, according to BaseballReference.com.

Maravilla arrived at the game in the seventh inning. As he went to sit down, he testified that he slipped and fell on melted ice cream, peanut shells, plastic bags and spilled soda.

He said the hazards were “in plain view,” but he didn’t see them until after he fell. He also wasn’t sure how long the slip hazards were there. But he had the impression that they had been walked on since the gates opened at 5 p.m.

Lon Rosenberg, the Dodgers’ vice president of operations, was responsible for stadium maintenance. He said that, once the gates opened, four groups of employees were charged with inspecting aisles for slip hazards constantly.

Rosenberg had “no recollection” of any reports of serious spills in the area Maravilla had seats that night.

The trial court ruled in favor of the Dodgers, saying that:

  • The Dodgers lacked actual knowledge of a dangerous condition
  • Maravilla didn’t know how long the slip hazard existed before his accident
  • Maravilla had no evidence to show how the slip hazard was created and only speculated the Dodgers failed to clean it up
  • Maravilla couldn’t identify a witness with knowledge of how long the slip hazard existed, and
  • The Dodgers exercised reasonable care in inspecting the stadium.

Maravilla appealed the case to the Court of Appeals of California.

Dodgers win!

In premises liability cases, the court explained the property owner must:

  • make reasonable inspections of the portions of its premises open to customers, and
  • have notice of the defect/hazard in sufficient time to correct it.

In this case, the court said there was no evidence the Dodgers had actual knowledge of the slip hazard in the aisle where Maravilla fell. The Dodgers also met their burden of showing lack of actual or constructive knowledge because the stadium was constantly inspected for spills and hazards.

Maravilla also admitted he had no idea how long the food was lying on the ground. He speculated it was there for a long time, but the court said this was “pure conjecture.” The food could’ve been spilled on the floor only moments before he fell, the court reasoned.

The appeals court affirmed the trial court’s judgment and ruled in favor of the Dodgers.

What do you think of this case? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

(Maravilla v. Los Angeles Dodgers, Court of Appeals of California, Second District, Division Two, No. B263602, 4/11/16)

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Comments

  1. Arrived in the seventh inning? Did he even pay admission to the park? In plain view yet he didn’t see it. None of this adds up to fault by the ballpark.

  2. Dodgers should have counter sued for expenses incurred because of a frivolous law suit. Pretty obvious the man was looking for a free ride. it is noted in this country that people think they will gain money by law suit or lottery, Law suit being #1. Side note: the woman that won the suit against McDonalds for spilling hot coffee in her lap and being burned, our courts should have tossed it out. She won because the temperature was over 200 degrees. Good drinkable coffee is around 150 degrees. Problem here is it cools off sooner and not as good to drink. I wander what the woman didn’t understand about the “hot”. She ordered it she spilled it!

    • Rual Menendez says:

      At first she hadn’t even wanted to sue but Mcdonalds wouldn’t give her the money to pay for her medical bills that she had to pay out of pocket for.

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