The case, Melvin v. The Board of Trustees of North Kansas City Hospital, involved an elderly woman who fell while she was walking with her daughter en route to a doctor’s appointment. The woman alleged that she tripped on a metal plate that covered a drain in the hallway of the hospital. Though the woman died pending litigation, her daughter substituted as the plaintiff in the case.
The plaintiff was tasked with the burden of establishing a dangerous condition exception to sovereign immunity by showing the existence of a physical defect in the property; that an employee negligently created the dangerous condition or knew of should have known about it in time to remedy against it; and the dangerous condition directly caused the alleged injuries.
While photos showed a space between the carpet and the top of the metal plate, O’Connell and Witten argued and put on evidence that no employee at NKCH had negligently created the condition of the plate, and that no employee of NKCH knew of the alleged space until after the accident.
The attorneys were also successful in precluding plaintiff’s expert from offering new opinions at trial.