June 18, 2019

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Summary Judgment Affirmed When Plaintiff Cannot Establish Defective Staircase Caused Her Fall

Plaintiff was injured when she fell down a staircase leading from the defendant’s bedroom to the first floor of his house. She had used the staircase over a hundred times before that night. In her deposition, she said she does not know what caused her fall. Plaintiff's expert said the stairway had multiple defects in violation of building codes, one of which was the failure to have a handrail. The trial court entered summary judgment for the defendant because plaintiff could not establish proximate cause.

The Third District affirmed. Proximate cause is an essential element of a negligence claim. None of the testimony and affidavits addressed the issue of what caused plaintiff to fall. It also noted the lack of a handrail in violation of the building code did not create an issue of material fact. Violating an ordinance, by itself, does not establish proximate cause. Vertin v. Mau, 2014 IL App (3d) 130246. 

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