Washington Case Law Update: Inconsistent Testimony Leads to Summary Judgment Against an Injured Tourist

Washington Case Law Update: Inconsistent Testimony Leads to Summary Judgment Against an Injured Tourist

From the desk of Tom McCurdy: Summary judgment is appropriate when a party is unable to provide enough evidence to establish the existence of an essential element of their case. Oftentimes, a party against whom summary judgment is sought will use a declaration to provide enough evidence of the elements of their case. What if a party’s declaration is contradicted by their earlier deposition testimony? Will they still be able to overcome summary judgment? Read on to find out.

Case Pointer: In this personal injury lawsuit, a tourist was injured when she allegedly tripped on a manhole cover in a crosswalk in Seattle. The city filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiff had failed to provide sufficient evidence to create a triable issue of fact as to whether she actually tripped on the manhole. The trial court granted the motion, finding that plaintiff’s self-serving declaration was inconsistent with her earlier testimony and, accordingly, could not be used to establish that she tripped on the manhole cover. The Washington Court of Appeals agreed, affirming the trial court’s disregard of her self-serving declaration due to her inconsistent testimony. Because plaintiff provided no other evidence to show that the manhole cover actually caused her fall, summary judgment was appropriate.

Barbara Arntz v. City of Seattle, Wash. Ct. of App., No. 77504-9-I (February 25, 2019) (unpublished).

In August of 2014, Barbara Arntz (“Plaintiff”), a German citizen, was injured when she tripped and fell in a crosswalk on her way to Pike Place Market in Seattle. About eight months later, she filed a lawsuit against the City of Seattle (the “City”) arguing that she had tripped and fallen because of a defective “sunken” manhole cover.
After depositions, the City filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that Plaintiff had failed to present...

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