By: Allan M. Siegel
We are all familiar with the tiled surfaces of Metro stations. What may
be less familiar is the fact that, over time, the force of people’s
shoes on the tiles scuffs and wears down the surface, making the tiles
smoother and slippery. When wet, the tiles in certain Metro stations can
be particularly dangerous.
In the case of
Reeves v. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, plaintiff Atiya K. Reeves entered the Archives-Navy Memorial-Penn Quarter
Metro station in the early evening of February 24, 2011, at which time
it was raining outside. Ms. Reeves passed through the turnstiles, then
unexpectedly slipped on the tiled surface and fell to the ground, injuring
herself. Ms. Reeves sued Metro, claiming that the worn-down, low-friction
state of the tiles, in combination with water tracked inside the station
by patrons, made the tiled surface of the Archives station unreasonably
dangerous. However, the trial court dismissed the case, ruling that any
danger posed by the wet floor should have been obvious to Ms. Reeves.
On appeal, on April 14, 2016, D.C.’s high court, the Court of Appeals,
reversed this ruling and held that Ms. Reeves’ case should have
proceeded to a trial before a jury. The Court of Appeals held that Ms.
Reeves had presented sufficient evidence so that she might be able to
prove her case to the jury. The Court reasoned that the smoothed state
of the tiles was not necessarily obvious to Ms. Reeves, and that Metro,
being the most familiar with the dangerous state of the tiles, perhaps
had a duty to protect Ms. Reeves from the danger posed by Metro’s
own property. This ruling will likely prove important to holding Metro
and other landowners accountable for injuries caused by the unsafe state
of their own premises.
If you have been injured in a fall on someone else’s property, you should
contact the personal injury attorneys at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel,
P.C., for a free consultation.