No Bollards,No Problem
by Ron Davis
A bizarre accident at a Massachusetts shopping center has led to charges against the centerís owners and property manager that they donít protect their customers from hazardous conditions.
The shopping center is located in Framingham, and the accident occurred there in front of a tenantís store. A patron of the store had just completed her shopping and was in the sidewalk area awaiting the arrival of a taxi when an out-of-control automobile struck her.
The driver of the automobile, while backing from a nearby handicapped space, suddenly lost control of her vehicle. It accelerated backward some 70 feet, bounced over a curb and pushed the accident victim through a glass window.
Prior to the accident, doctors had diagnosed the driver as suffering from a neurological disease causing numbness in her lower extremities. Medical records also showed that she wears braces on her lower legs.
The Framingham shopping center where the accident occurred is typical of most such facilities in its configuration. A two-lane roadway separates a sidewalk from the parking area. The lanes for entry and exit from the parking spaces are perpendicular to the front of the store where the woman awaited her taxi.
In defending against the injured shopperís charges, the shopping centerís owners and property manager noted their reliance on the work of professionals for the design and construction of the shopping center and its parking area. They also claimed that they had never received any warnings that they needed to take any precautions to ensure or enhance public safety at the center.
But the injured woman tried to show that the centerís owners and property manager were generally aware of the risks of ďbringing cars into a parking lot and attracting pedestrians to the stores on the location.Ē She also maintained that the property manager should have used protective posts known as bollards to separate the sidewalk from the parking and driving areas.
A Massachusetts court, in ruling in favor of the centerís owners and property manager, explained, ďThe accident victim failed to offer specific facts to support her claim that [the owners and manager] were aware of an unreasonably dangerous condition or that they failed to take steps prudently to eliminate it. The record also contains no facts to support the assertion that the centerís principals had knowledge of similar accidents or that there were specific instances where bollards or similar structures were used to protect pedestrians in other developments.Ē (Davis v. 575 Worcester Road, LLC, 2008 WL 4414607 [Mass.App.Ct.])
Decision: October 2008
Published: October 2008