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MSZL&M Secures Appellate Victory After Obtaining Summary Judgment in Philadelphia Personal Injury Case

Aug 26, 2011 - Recent Verdicts by

Automatic Doors Not Required in Commercial Establishments   

In Bellamy v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., the plaintiff fell in the entryway of a Wells Fargo Bank (“Wells Fargo”) branch on August 26, 2011 and claimed serious personal injuries. The plaintiff, who uses a walker to ambulate, alleged that Wells Fargo was required to have automatic doors at the premises.  At the close of discovery, MSZL&M partner, Louis Hockman, filed a Motion for Summary Judgment.  After Plaintiff opposed such Motion, Philadelphia Judge, Nina Wright Padilla, granted Summary Judgment. 

Plaintiff appealed to the Pennsylvania Superior Court, which, after briefing and oral argument, affirmed the trial court opinion holding that Plaintiff/Appellant “has not demonstrated that Wells Fargo had a legally recognizable duty to protect her from manual doors” and that she did “not demonstrate how Wells Fargo failed to exercise reasonable care under Section 343(c)” of the Restatement (Second) of Torts.  The Superior Court noted that if it accepted Plaintiff/Appellant’s argument, it “would effectively require all businesses to have automatic doors.” 

While Americans with Disabilities Act compliance is of great importance to retail establishments, in the absence of extraordinary factors, there is no requirement that automatic (“handicap friendly”) doors be installed in commercial businesses.  Finally, this case shows that in the appropriate matter, it is worthwhile to file a Motion for Summary Judgment.