Matt Piatkowski Wins Appeal Affirming Summary Judgment

November 7, 2017

The Connecticut Appellate Court recently published an opinion in the case of McFarline v. Mickens, affirming a Superior Court decision granting a motion for summary judgment filed by RRD Associate, Matt Piatkowski.  The underlying claim involved a personal injury claim.  The plaintiff claimed that she sustained injuries after tripping on a crumbling sidewalk abutting the defendant’s property.  The plaintiff claimed that she did not see the crumbling sidewalk as it was covered with grass that was growing through cracks in the sidewalk.  The plaintiff alleged that the defendant was responsible for maintaining the sidewalk and in particular the grassy condition obscuring the crumbling and broken sidewalk.

Attorney Piatkowski moved for summary judgment on behalf of the defendant on the grounds that the defendant did not owe a duty to the plaintiff to repair or warn of the defective condition.  Attorney Piatkowski maintained that the Town of Meriden was responsible for the maintenance and repair of the sidewalk which abutted a public highway.  Attorney Piatkowski further argued that while the municipal codes required that property landowners maintain grassy areas on public sidewalks, the codes did not transfer liability to the defendant for injuries to third parties.  The trial court, Hon. J. Blue, agreed and granted summary judgment on behalf of the defendant.  The appeal followed.

On appeal, briefed and argued by Attorney Piatkowski, the Appellate Court affirmed the trial court’s decision.  Judge Keller, with a concurrence from Judges Lavine and Bishop, emphasized that in the absence of a statute or ordinance, an abutting landowner ordinarily is under no duty to keep the public sidewalk in front of her property in a reasonably safe condition.  The Appellate Court further noted that there was no evidence that the defendant created the alleged condition and thus had no duty under the common-law.