The opinion of the court was delivered by: JAMES B. PARSONS
On February 17, 1987, Robert Hudson traveled from California to Chicago to pursue business interests and to reunite with old friends and colleagues of his in the railroad business. The following day, Robert joined his brother, Ralph Hudson, who resides in Lisle, Illinois, as well as several other acquaintances at around 6:30 p.m. at a cocktail reception at the Continental Club located on the corner of Van Buren Street and Wabash Street. This business reception was a testimonial reception for a former colleague and business associate of Ralph. Cocktails and hors d'oeuvres were served at this reception which ended at about 8:30 p.m.
Ralph and Robert then left the reception and proceeded to the Wabash Inn with a group of people that had also attended the reception. They arrived at the Wabash Inn at about 9:00 p.m.
At approximately 10:30 p.m., Robert was in the lounge of the Wabash Inn with his brother and these several business acquaintances when he excused himself from his companions to use the restroom. He was directed to an enclosed staircase which led down a flight of stairs to the men's restroom. He walked toward the staircase.
Ralph and a few others from the group then immediately ran down the stairs and found Robert laying on the floor at the bottom of the stairs and breathing very heavily. He was lying unconscious on his back. His feet were at the bottom of the stairs or with one or more of his feet on the bottom step.
At the time, there was no visible sign of injury, but once Ralph lifted Roberts head a small trickle of blood came from his nostril.
Robert, later taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital and now back in California where he remains in a nursing home, has no memory of how he was injured. As a result of his memory lapse, he is unable to testify on his own behalf. In addition, there were no witnesses to the incident in question.
Robert's wife Shirley Hudson, filed the instant lawsuit against the owner and manager of the Wabash Inn, Jay-N-Vee Inc. ("Jay-N-Vee") as well as the owners of the building, the First National Bank of Chicago ("Bank"). She contends that Robert's injuries were the result of the defendants' negligence with respect to either the tile floor upon which Robert was found, or the staircase which lead from the restroom floor to the lounge level floor. She alleges that the tile floor was unreasonably slippery and inadequately maintained, while the stairway had inadequate handrails, improper lighting and was also inadequately maintained.
The defendant, Jay-N-Vee filed a motion for summary judgment in which the Bank joined. The defendants assert that even if Mrs. Hudson could establish the inadequacy of the floor and stair conditions, she would be unable to prove her case because there is no eye witness or direct physical evidence linking the cause of the injury to any of these conditions.
In addition, the Bank filed a separate motion for summary judgment asserting that the lease signed between it and Jay-N-Vee puts Jay-N-Vee in charge of maintaining the property in a safe condition. As the mere owner of the property, the Bank asserts that it did not owe a duty to Robert and thus could not be held liable for his injury.
Thus in the instant memorandum opinion and order, the Court must determine whether there is sufficient evidence of causation between the condition of the staircase and floor and the plaintiff's injury. If the Court answers the first inquiry in the affirmative, then the Court must determine whether the Bank may also be held liable for the plaintiff's injury.
Under Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil procedure, summary judgement is appropriate when it is shown that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Griffin v. Thomas, 929 F.2d 1210 (7th Cir. 1991).
To overcome a motion for summary judgment, the party here opposing the motion may not rest on the mere allegations of the pleadings, but must set forth specific facts required to demonstrate that there is a genuine issue for trial. Holmes v. Sheahan, 930 F.2d 1196 (7th Cir. 1991); see also Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 159, 90 S. Ct. 1598, 1609, 26 L. Ed. 2d 142 (1970).
As to materiality, the substantive law will identify which facts are material. Only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit at trial will ...