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Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Maine Supreme Court rules woman's slip-and-fall lawsuit against therapy facility is not medical negligence claim

State Supreme Court

By Marian Johns | Aug 28, 2019

PORTLAND, Maine (Legal Newsline) – The Maine Supreme Judicial Court has agreed with a lower court's ruling that a woman's premises liability personal injury lawsuit against the owners of a therapy facility where she slipped and injured herself is based on negligence and is not a health care services claim. 

According to the Aug. 20 ruling, appellant Spectrum Medical Group PA petitioned the court to appeal a York County Superior Court's decision that denied its motion to dismiss a suit against it filed by appellee Ann Salerno. 

Salerno filed suit three years after she slipped and fell at a water therapy facility in Saco owned by Spectrum. The ruling states Salerno was receiving water therapy at the facility following her hip replacement surgery when she slipped in the locker room run by Spectrum. 

Salerno claims she slipped because the only bench available for her to sit on in the locker room was covered with a rubber mat that belonged on the floor, so she attempted to use a shower stall with a handicapped-accessible seat and fell while attempting to reach that seat.

In December 2017, Salerno filed the suit and Spectrum filed a motion to dismiss, arguing her claim falls under professional negligence per the Maine Health Security Act (MHSA). Spectrum also argued that Salerno's claim falls past the three-year statute of limitations for professional negligence claims per the MHSA.

In his opinion, Maine Supreme Court Justice Jeffrey Hjelm stated the court disagreed with Spectrum and that despite that Salerno was at the facility for medical rehabilitation, her injuries were the result of alleged negligence of leaving the rubber mat on the bench. 

The court affirmed the Superior Court of York County's decision to deny Spectrum's motion to dismiss because Salerno's claim is "not within the ambit of the MHSA."

Attorney for the appellant is Jonathan Brogan with Norman, Hanson & DeTroy LLC and the attorney for the appellee is Richard Regan with Moncure & Barnicle in Topsham. 

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