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Let the jury decide

Fairfax Circuit Judge Jane Marum Roush reminded those at the Virginia Trial Lawyer Association’s annual convention on Saturday, “The Supreme Court has a lof of faith that, if given the opportunity, the jury will get it right.”

The court had re-emphasized the point barely 24 hours in an unpublished order, Thompson v. Home Properties Seminary Towers LLC, Record No. 090868. The trial judge in Alexandria appeared to have relied on photos of steps submitted by the defense in a slip-and-fall case to bolster in its argument that the alleged hazard was open and obvious. The judge granted summary judgment.

In reinstating the case, the Supreme Court noted that the issue of lighting for the steps was still in dispute. It cited its observation in Fultz V. Delhaize America Inc., decided just last year, that it is “increasingly confronted with appeals of cases in which a trial court incorrectly has short-ciruited litigation pretrial and has decided the dispute without permitting the parties to reach a trial on the merits.”

By Alan Cooper

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