Appellate Court Requires Parties Be Given Ample Time to Conduct Investigation

Earlier this month, an appellate court in Mississippi released a written opinion in a case involving a pedestrian accident that took place in a gas station parking lot. The appeal was filed by the plaintiff after the lower court refused to give the plaintiff additional time to complete an investigation into whether the defendant gas station owner was negligent in failing to erect barriers to prevent out-of-control cars from entering its lot. The court ultimately determined that under the state’s rules of civil procedure, the parties should have been given more time to investigate the issue, thus presenting the court with more information.

The Facts of the Case

The case of Stanley v. Scott Petroleum Corporation arose after the two plaintiffs were struck by a vehicle as they were at a walk-up window paying for gas at the defendant gas station. The evidence presented suggested that the car that struck the plaintiffs suffered from some kind of mechanical malfunction with the braking system, and it was unable to slow down at the intersection adjacent to the station. It was estimated that the car was traveling at approximately 45 miles per hour at the time of the collision.

As a result, the car careened through the gas station and into a set of vending shelves. Those shelves then collided with the plaintiffs, causing them to be injured as a result.

The plaintiffs sued the gas station, alleging that the station was negligent in failing to protect against this very type of situation by neglecting to install either a curb or some kind of barrier. There was, however, a sign posted stating “CAUTION! BE SAFE AND ALERT. WATCH OUT FOR MOVING VEHICLES.”

Before any interrogatories were completed, the defendant gas station moved for summary judgment on the written discovery alone, arguing that this type of accident was not foreseeable and that the gas station did not owe a duty to the plaintiffs to erect barriers to prevent against this kind of accident. The plaintiffs asked for a continuance so that they could further investigate the matter and present the court with additional information. The trial court denied the plaintiffs’ request, agreed with the defendants, and granted the motion. The plaintiffs appealed.

On Appeal

On appeal, the case was reversed on the basis that the lower court should have granted the plaintiffs’ request for a continuance. Specifically, the court cited a rule of criminal procedure that allows for a continuance when written discovery is not enough to adequately present the court with a full picture. As a result of this ruling, the plaintiffs will be provided an opportunity to conduct further investigation and discovery before arguing the defendant’s summary judgment motion.

Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Pedestrian Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in any kind of Maryland pedestrian accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation to help you recoup the costs associated with the accident. However, as discussed above, personal injury cases are often resolved in a summary manner based on a single judge’s viewpoint, and it is important to have as strong a case as possible even during the earliest proceedings in order to avoid an unnecessary dismissal. To learn more about pedestrian accident cases in Maryland, call 410-654-3600 today to set up a free consultation with a dedicated attorney.

More Blog Posts:

Determining Fault in Maryland Multi-Vehicle Accidents, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, published February 2, 2016.

Accident Victim’s Signed Release Encompasses At-Fault Driver and Subsequent Allegedly Negligent Physician, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, published February 16, 2016.

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