Can't Blame It On The Rain

The case Billiot v. Big Wheels Travel Center demonstrates how a plaintiff needs to offer some evidence of a vice or defect in a property in order to survive a motion for summary judgment. Ms. Billiot alleged that she injured her right arm when she slipped and fell on an access ramp while walking into the Big Wheels Travel Center. In response to Ms. Billiot’s claims, Big Wheels filed a motion for summary judgment. In support of the summary judgment motion, Big Wheels submitted photographs depicting the ramp and affidavits of store employees confirming that there was nothing defective about the ramp at the time of the accident. Other than establishing that rain had fallen on the area where she slipped and fell and that the area was wet, Ms. Billiot offered no evidence of any vice or defect in the property. Given this lack of evidence, the trial court granted Big Wheel’s motion for summary judgment and in doing so noted that rain on a walkway in and of itself does not present an unreasonable harm.

Take-Away:  Rain on an access ramp or walkway in and of itself does not constitute a vice or defect. In order to avoid summary dismissal of their case, plaintiffs must come forth with some evidence that there is a problem, vice or defect in the property.