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Yankowitz v. D.R. Horton, Inc.

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Columbia Division

April 13, 2015

Lori Yankowitz, Plaintiff,
v.
D.R. Horton, Inc., Defendant.

ORDER AND OPINION

MARGARET B. SEYMOUR, Senior District Judge.

This matter is before the court on D.R. Horton, Inc.'s, ("Defendant's") motion for summary judgment filed on February 24, 2015. ECF No. 54. Lori Yankowitz ("Plaintiff") filed a response in opposition on March 13, 2015. ECF No. 56. Defendant filed a reply on March 23, 2015. ECF No. 57. The court held a telephone hearing on the summary judgment motion on April 10, 2015. ECF No. 61. For the reasons below, Defendant's motion for summary judgment is granted.

I. Background

This case is a negligent personal injury action in which Plaintiff seeks damages for injuries she sustained after she tripped down a step. The Complaint alleges that Plaintiff was touring a model home owned by the Defendant and while "walking through the model house to the business area in the garage of the house" she "tripped and fell on a raised portion of the steps in [sic] leading into the garage." ECF No. 1. Plaintiff seeks actual and punitive damages for her "bodily injury; disfigurement; pain and suffering; past, present and future medical bills; aggravation; humiliation; embarrassment; mental anguish; [and] loss of use of enjoyment." ECF No. 1.

Plaintiff and Defendant both submitted copies of four pictures taken by Plaintiff's husband of the step where the accident occurred. See, e.g., ECF No. 54-4 at 5-8. The pictures depict a step down of approximately several inches from an upper level with hardwood flooring to a lower, carpeted level. Id. Both parties also submitted excerpts of the Plaintiff's deposition. ECF Nos. 54-2; 56-4. Defendant's counsel questioned Plaintiff about the fall:

Q:... just tell me in as much detail as you can recall specifically what happened.
A.... We were supposed to go back to the house to look at it; okay? And I happened to fall. What else to you want me to say?
....
Q:... why do you believe D.R. Horton caused you to fall?
A: Well, wherever I was walking that day there happened to be-it looked to me-it happened too fast to really remember; okay? All I know is that I took a dive and I put my hand up and I thought I was going to go through the front door, glass door.
Q: Okay. So you don't remember what caused you to fall?
A: There was something there that-it felt almost like a hill or slope
Q: Okay.
A: All right? It just happened ...

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