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Dover Elevator Co. v. Swann

Maryland Supreme Judicial Court
638 A.2d 762 (1994)


Facts

Swann (plaintiff) was injured while attempting to board an elevator that failed to level properly with the floor. Swann filed suit against Prudential Insurance Company of America (Prudential) (defendant), the owner of the building where the elevator was located, and Dover Elevator Company (Dover Elevator) (defendant), the company that manufactured, installed, and maintained the elevator. Swann’s complaint alleged that he suffered $3 million in damages, due to defendants’ negligence and defects in the design, manufacture, installation, and maintenance of the elevator. At trial, Swann offered expert testimony from an elevator consultant and engineer. The expert explained, in explicit detail, how the defendants were negligent in failing to properly maintain the elevator. At the close of evidence, the trial court instructed the jury on negligence but refused Swann’s request to also instruct the jury on the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur. The jury held for the defendants. Swann appealed. The court of appeals affirmed the judgment of the trial court as to Prudential but reversed as to Dover Elevator. The appellate court held that the trial court erred by refusing to instruct the jury on res ipsa loquitur. Dover Elevator appealed. The Maryland Supreme Judicial Court granted certiorari to review.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Chasanow, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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