Premises Liability

Richardson Law Group defends companies under allegation of injuries caused to those on their premises. Whether the issue be a slip and fall case, electricity defects, or security issues, our attorneys are equipped to investigate all elements of the situation in order to ascertain the best possible defense for the property owner. Should litigation be necessary, our attorneys are prepared to handle any case that they receive by conceiving the most effective strategies. The protection of the property owner is the first priority of the attorneys at Richardson Law Group.

Our team of attorneys has experience with a variety of premises liability claims, ranging from claims of alleged property defects to negligent maintenance. We have also represented a variety of defendants, ranging from a homeowner sued after a slip and fall on his property to a nationwide franchisee sued for catastrophic injuries sustained on one of its restaurant locations. We understand that while a property owner has a duty to people who are invited to the property, the reasonableness of the owner’s actions will vary based on the circumstances. Our attorneys are committed to a fact-intensive inquiry to determine exactly what happened in order to protect you from liability. 

Our attorneys have experience defending the interests of its clients in premises liability matters from pre-litigation all the way to the Kentucky Supreme Court, obtaining outstanding results in the process.

Attorneys at Richardson Law Group also understand that successful business owners have hundreds of visitors to their property every day, and we are responsive to your needs by providing prompt updates on the status of your case and the ever evolving law of premises liability. 

Representative matters:

January 2024,Graves County, KYShipp & Heath v. Arrowhead Camper Sales Inc
Melissa Richardson obtained a unanimous defense verdict on liability for their client, Arrowhead Camper Sales, Inc. This case involved a motor vehicle accident that occurred on October 13, 2017, in Graves County, Kentucky related to an alleged sight-line obstruction due to campers/RVs parked in Arrowhead’s parking lot. The Plaintiffs were a 16  year old woman and her grandmother, who were traveling back the grandmother’s home when they attempted to navigate the subject intersection. Video surveillance showed the 16 year old driver “rolled” through the intersection despite the presence of a stop sign and red flashing lights. Their vehicle was struck by a drunk driver, who had a BAC level three times the legal limit. The responding officer claimed the campers/RVs in Arrowhead’s parking lot created a sight obstruction at the stop bar and took photographs of the alleged obstruction. Further, after the officer obtained the video of the “rolling stop” he continued to claim the obstruction caused the accident.

The Plaintiffs were both airlifted to Vanderbilt Medical Center, with the younger Plaintiff having sustained life-threatening injuries. The 16 year old driver suffered a pelvic fracture, seven broken ribs, orbital fractures, spleen, kidney, and live lacerations, traumatic brain injury, and had an embolization procedure due to internal bleeding to save her life. She was hospitalized at Vanderbilt for a month and then transferred to Frazier Rehab in Louisville for inpatient rehab for another month before returning home. The grandmother was hospitalized at Vanderbilt for five days for injuries including: spleen laceration, five fracture ribs, and a shoulder injury that eventually led to shoulder surgery. The 16 year old had medical expenses of approximately

$700,000 and the grandmother had medical expenses of over $215,000.

The Plaintiffs alleged Arrowhead violated KRS 177.106 (encroachment onto the state right-of- way) and general negligence.  As discovery proceeded in the case, the Plaintiffs put forth fact witnesses claiming the intersection had been dangerous for 20+ years because of the campers. However, no one from the community or any state officials told Arrowhead’s owners or employees the campers were creating an obstruction at the intersection at any time. The witnesses claimed they would come to the stop sign, look, and then proceed a little further past the stop sign to gain a clear view down the highway if needed. The owner of Arrowhead testified he had probably driven through the intersection 45,000 times since 1977 and the campers never caused any visibility issue. He testified if they did create an obstruction for his, his family, or the community, he would have moved them.

The drunk driver testified at trial; he confirmed he saw the Plaintiffs’ vehicle approaching the stop sign and presumed she would stop as she did slow down. He contended the accident would not have happened if she had simply stopped.

Arrowhead hired Heath Spivey of Delta V Engineering to recreate the accident scene. Mr. Spivey’s reconstruction showed the driver had a sightline of 351 feet down the highway at the stop bar and a completely, unobstructed view of the highway of over 1,000 feet three feet ahead of the stop bar. At the time of trial, the Plaintiffs were seeking over $17 million.

After a two-week trial, the jury deliberated for an hour before returning a unanimous defense verdict in favor of Arrowhead on all counts.  See KTCR Report  See The Voice Report

December 2023, Union County, KYBaird v. Greenwell Brothers Farm, LLC, et al.   Melissa Richardson and Zach Epperson successfully obtained a unanimous defense verdict on liability for their clients, Greenwell Brothers Farm, LLC, Thomas Randall Greenwell, and James Neal Greenwell, in a unique case involving a negligence action filed by a farm employee after he contracted a rare fungal infection. Plaintiff is a life-long farmer who was hired by Greenwell Brothers Farm as a farmhand in 2018.

In or around August 17, 2020, Greenwell Brothers underwent the task of replacing the floor of a grain bin located on the property. The Greenwells, several of the Greenwell children, and Plaintiff, among others, first removed the perforated floor of the grain bin. Thereafter, they worked to remove the grain remnants that had accumulated under the floor. The Greenwells would shovel the grain remnants into buckets, hand the bucket through an opening in the grain bin to Plaintiff who was standing outside, and Plaintiff would then empty the bucket into a wagon.  

No one wore respiratory protection while working on the grain bin. Greenwell Brothers did not require employees to use respiratory protection for this particular type of work. However, various respirators, including N-95 masks, were readily available for employees to use at their discretion. Respirators were kept in the grainery control room, the office shop, and in most service trucks, all of which were located beside of the grain bin. Greenwell Brothers contended that all employees knew where the respirators were kept and had access to them.

While Plaintiff initially denied that respiratory protection was available, he later acknowledged that he had used respirators provided by Greenwell Brothers in the past and that he could have found one had he looked. He indicated he used his extensive experience as a farmer to determine whether or not to wear a respirator. In this instance, and based on his experience, he did not believe a respirator was necessary for the grain bin project. As such, he did not use a respirator and testified that he would not have worn one if it were handed to him due to the August heat.

Less than two weeks after completing the work on the grain bin, Plaintiff was hospitalized and diagnosed with disseminated blastomycosis, a rare fungal infection caused by the organism blastomyces. Blastomyces is primarily found in soil and is endemic to the Ohio River Valley, Mississippi River Valley, and the Southeastern United States. Plaintiff alleged he inhaled blastomyces spores during the grain bin project. Plaintiff filed suit alleging that the Greenwell Brothers were negligent for failing to provide proper respiratory protection and a grain vacuum. Plaintiff elicited testimony from an industrial hygienist who claimed that Greenwell Brothers should have, at a minimum, required its employees to wear half-face respirators with P-100 filters. She acknowledged that N-95 respirators were designed to protect against airborne particulates, such as grain dust; however, she would not recommend them due to the potential for leakage.

Among other things, Greenwell Brothers asserted that Plaintiff could not link his infection to the grain bin project. Plaintiff’s expert, Plaintiff’s treating infectious disease doctor, and Greenwell Brother’s expert all agreed that blastomyces spores are endemic to the area and that Plaintiff could have been exposed to blastomyces spores virtually anywhere in the general environment. This was determined to be particularly true in areas where the soil is being plowed. Plaintiff, who worked on a farm and lived on his own farm that was actively being farmed, was routinely exposed to this type of environment. Moreover, Greenwell Brothers’ expert, Dr. Keith Armitage, opined that the normal incubation period for blastomycosis is greater than 30 days. Because Plaintiff began experience symptoms less than two weeks after the grain bin project, it was unlikely that the grain bin project work was the source of the infection. Her further noted that no other employee who worked in or around the grain bin became ill. Moreover, Greenwell Brothers relied on Plaintiff’s medical records which noted that he had been losing weight, had sores on his body that would not heal, and had been feeling fatigued for a couple of months prior to the grain bin work, as all of those complaints are symptoms associated with blastomycosis. According to Dr. Armitage, this suggested that Plaintiff likely contracted his infection at least months before the grain bin project was started.   

Greenwell Brothers further contended that they complied with any duty they may have owed Plaintiff by providing N-95 respirators for employees to use on a voluntary basis. Greenwell Brothers’ agriculture operations expert, Bob McIndoo, opined that it is industry standard for farming operations to have N-95 respirators available for voluntary use when cleaning the interior of a grain bin. Additionally, Greenwell Brothers’ industrial hygienist, James McIntosh, opined that the N-95 respirators made available by Greenwell Brothers would have offered adequate protection against airborne particulates had Plaintiff chosen to wear one.

Following his infection, Plaintiff asserted that he was experiencing ongoing respiratory issues, severe depression due to his alleged inability to work, chronic headaches and migraines, ambulation issues, nausea, fatigue, and a general inability to engage in any activity without becoming sick. Plaintiff claimed that these alleged symptoms prevented him from returning to work. However, Plaintiff’s treating infectious disease doctor opined that Plaintiff had made a full recovery from his infection and there was no indication that Plaintiff should be experiencing lingering symptoms. In fact, Plaintiff’s own expert acknowledged that from a pulmonary and physical standpoint, Plaintiff was able to return to work. Further, Plaintiff had an extensive history of pre-existing health issues that were playing a role in his alleged ongoing complaints, including an extensive history of anxiety, depression, diabetes, COPD. In fact, Plaintiff had reported to his primary care physician just months before trial that his depression was in full remission and that he had been performing work outside on his house.

After a four day trial, the jury returned a unanimous defense verdict within 30 minutes of deliberation.  See KTCR Report.  See The View Report.

November 2021, Jefferson County, KYWalker v. Greenwood, Inc. Melissa Richardson successfully obtained a defense verdict on liability. Plaintiff was abducted from Greenwood Bingo off Dixie Highway in Louisville by a John Doe on January 11, 2017, during a midnight bingo event operated by a charity organization. Despite having attended Bingo events at Greenwood for approximately 17 years prior to this incident and never expressing any concern for her safety while at Greenwood, Plaintiff’s theory of liability was that the crime perpetrated against her was foreseeable to Greenwood and that Greenwood had insufficient lighting and security measures in place which enabled John Doe to attack her. The Jury heard testimony about the security guard present on the premises on the night of the attack, the lighting conditions in the parking lot on and around the night of the attack, and crime data from the two years prior to the attack within a half-mile radius of the bingo hall. The Jury also heard first-hand accounts of individuals working at Greenwood on the night of the incident and their recollections of the condition of lighting in the parking lot that night. Plaintiff’s testimony reflected that she did not recall anything out of the ordinary on the night of her attack, and that she recalled the lighting did not look any different than when she had attended midnight bingo events in the past. The crime data reflected that no violent felonies, like the one perpetrated against Plaintiff, had occurred on or within a half-mile of the property in the two years prior to the January 2017 attack. As a result, the Jury found that the attack against Plaintiff was not reasonably foreseeable to Greenwood and that it did not breach its duty of ordinary care.  See KTCR Report.

November 2019, Jefferson County, KYPate v. Settle. Melissa Richardson and Ryan Glass successfully obtained summary judgment for their client. Defendant rented a dumpster for his tenant to use during efforts to remediate the property.  Plaintiff was allegedly helping the tenant with the remediation efforts.  In doing so, Plaintiff placed a nightstand next to the dumpster and stood on the nightstand to make additional room in the dumpster.  No one instructed Plaintiff to do this.  Plaintiff fell off the nightstand and broke his hip.  Plaintiff alleged he was hired by Defendant to remediate one of Defendant’s rental properties. Defendant denied this.  Plaintiff filed suit alleging Defendant “retained control of a dumpster with improper and/or absent safety measures that was brought onto the property for the common use of all persons.” The Court ruled Defendant could not foresee Plaintiff would be injured by the allegedly dangerous condition that Plaintiff himself created and thus that the Defendant did not breach any duty.

August 2019, Fayette County, KY:  Jensen v. Fright Nights, LLC.  Melissa Richardson successfully obtained a unanimous defense verdict on liability.  Plaintiff fell on a haunted trail on Halloween night in 2016.  After initially telling staff she fell because she was running, she subsequently indicated she fell because she tripped on a root that she could not see because it was too dark along the forest trail.  The Jury heard testimony about the company’s safety policy that was in effect at the time, how all employees were trained on that policy, and how the policy was executed on a daily basis.  The Jury also heard about the efforts undertaken to prepare and maintain the trail each day the event was in operation (this included adding mulch daily to the trial and ensuring that the lighting along the entirety of the trail was working).  Plaintiff did not identify the root or have pictures taken of the root at any point close in time to when she fell.  Instead, Plaintiff provided the jury with a photo of the alleged root that was taken nearly a year and a half after the fall (February 2018) and at a time when Fright Nights was obviously not in operation.  Plaintiff and her boyfriend testified the photograph of the trail was “consistent with their memory” but Fright Nights’ employees and City inspectors confirmed the photograph in no way reflected what the path would ever look like when Fright Nights was operating.  As a result, the Jury found that Fright Nights did not breach its duty of reasonable care.  See KTCR Report.

2018, Kentucky Court of AppealsChilders v. Hard Shell Tactical, LLC. In a matter of first impression,  Melissa Thompson Richardson successfully argued for a client's immunity from civil prosecution in a wrongful death matter. The Court of Appeals reversed the Circuit Court’s Order and held that Hard Shell Tactical, LLC was immune from civil prosecution under KRS 503.085.

September 2018, Fayette County, KY:  Johnny Doe v. Kids House, et. al.  Melissa Richardson successfully defended their clients, a daycare, its owner, and its director. A daycare employee was in an altercation with a ten year old student. The student struck her in the eye. She angrily left the student, returned 23 seconds later, and struck the student several times.  The entire encounter was captured on videotape. Prior to trial,  the Court dismissed claims for vicarious liability, negligent hiring, negligent training, negligent retention, and negligent supervision on Summary Judgment. At the close of Plaintiffs’ case, the Court granted a Directed Verdict Motion for the $500,000 claim of emotional distress. The Court agreed that Plaintiffs had not provided sufficient expert or medical testimony to support the claim. Plaintiff still claimed $175,000 in pain and suffering and $500,0000 in punitive damages. Just prior to closing arguments, Plaintiffs requested to settle the case the amount that had been offered 14 months prior at mediation and reiterated through an Offer of Judgment that was filed shortly after mediation.

January 2018, Meade County, KYCassidy Daugherty v. Scared and Cornfused, Inc., a/k/a Field of Screams. Mrs. Richardson obtained a verdict in favor of an outdoor haunted attraction. Plaintiff fell at the premises and sustained two ankle fractures. Her recovery was complicated by blood clots and several surgeries. However, the Defense was able to successfully establish that Field of Screams did not breach its duty to provide a reasonably safe premises as it performed routine inspections, provided adequate lighting, and multiple warnings of potential hazards were posted, among other considerations. After this three day trial, the jury returned a unanimous defense verdict within 20 minutes of deliberation.  See KTCR Report.

November 2017, Kentucky Court of Appeals:  Kendall v. Ralphie’s Fun CenterA/K/A Ralphie’s Properties, LLC. Ms. Kendall slipped and fell while bowling, fracturing her wrist.  She alleged the bowling alley had negligently applied oil to the lane on which she was bowling and failed to post adequate warnings about the hazard presented by the oil.  She and her attorney speculated that lane grease had bled past the foul line but presented no affirmative proof. The trial judge entered summary judgment after finding the Plaintiff had failed to sustain her burden of proof regarding causation. Plaintiff appealed. Her brief identified circumstantial evidence that she claimed supported her theory of causation.  The brief for the bowling alley responded with meticulous discussion of the trial court's record and relevant precedent.  In an opinion that in large part adopted the rationale presented the appellee's brief, the appellate court ruled the Plaintiff had failed to meet her burden of proof regarding causation.  Summary judgment was affirmed.

August 2017, Bullitt County, KY:  Richard Slawsky v. Knob Creek Gun Range, Inc.  Mrs. Richardson obtained a directed verdict on behalf of Knob Creek Gun Range.  Plaintiff was weekly year-round visitor to Knob Creek Gun Range for years prior to falling in March 2015.  At that time, he noted that the weather was snowy, icy, and cold.  He had no problems walking around the premises until he finally started to go to the firing line.  At that point, he fell and fractured his tibia, which required surgical treatment with the placement of hardware.  Plaintiff was unable to state what caused him to fall.  Directed verdict was granted on the negligence claim. See KTCR Report.

August 2017, Jefferson, KY: Geisler v. Kentucky Community and Technical College SystemNo. 2016-CA-001094-MR: Plaintiff was seriously injured while descending steps of a building owned by Defendant. Defendant, a state community college, first obtained dismissal in Jefferson Circuit Court on the basis of immunity. The Court of Appeals then affirmed this dismissal and agreed with the Defendant’s arguments, ultimately holding that the Defendant, as a public education entity, met the two-prong test for governmental immunity by performing a governmental function as opposed to a proprietary one. The Appellate Court also held the trial court’s citation to unpublished authority did not run afoul of the law because its opinion was first grounded in published authority, and then bolstered by citations to express holdings in an unpublished opinion.

2017, Jefferson County, KYVeatch v. ALO. Richardson Law Group obtained Summary Judgment for the ALO in this premises liability case. Plaintiff allegedly injured himself at a fundraiser which occurred at a private citizen’s house. The Court granted ALO’s Motion for Summary Judgment determining that the ALO did not owe a duty to Plaintiff as the ALO had no control over the property where the injury occurred.

March 2015, Floyd County, KY:  Maynard v. Hall. Jordan Hall fell asleep at the wheel while driving his employer’s vehicle, and, in the process, rear-ended Margie Maynard. The employer, BMM, now defunct, sold chemicals to assist with the mining industry. As a result of the employee falling asleep at the wheel, directed verdict as to Jordan Hall’s liability, represented by Walters Meadows Richardson, was granted.  However, Ms. Richardson was still able to obtain a zero verdict for Mr. Hall and BMM as the jury did not believe that the injuries claimed by the Plaintiff were caused by the accident. See KTCR Report. 

2007, Fayette Circuit Court, KY. McKean v. Barlow Homes.  A plaintiff purchased a new home and three weeks later, she stepped into her yard and fell on a depression. She sued the construction company that built her home for her medical bills, totaling $27,388 and over a quarter million dollars in pain and suffering. Richardson Law Group defended the construction company and argued that not only was the depression in the yard obvious, but that the plaintiff’s husband had done a detailed inspection of the property before the couple purchased the home. Our attorneys’ zealous advocacy convinced the jury that the construction company had done nothing wrong, and as a result, the plaintiff was awarded nothing.  

1999, Floyd Circuit Court, KY 99-CI-0077. Tucker v. Childers Oil Co.  A plaintiff in Floyd County sued the owner of a BP gas station after she fell on an oily spot in the gas station parking lot. The plaintiff brought her father to testify, who told the jury that he saw the oily spot in the parking lot a few hours before the plaintiff visited. Our attorneys noted the inconsistencies in the witnesses’ testimony, and also put on proof that the plaintiff’s injuries had healed. The jury agreed and awarded a $0 verdict.  See KYTCR report.

1998, Fayette Circuit Court, KY 98-CI-2228Kelly v. Phelps. Another plaintiff, a carpenter, was injured on the job after the roof of the project collapsed. He noted that once he arrived at the site, he saw the porch was sagging and attempted to fix the sag before the collapse. He sued several entities, including the contractor, and sought $42,192 in medical bills, $65,000 in lost wages and $130,269 in impairment. Our attorneys pointed out that not only had the plaintiff recovered and was in fact earning more money than he did before the accident, but he also admitted that he was aware of the sagging roof and negligently repaired it immediately before it collapsed. Our advocacy resulted in the jury putting the plaintiff 60 percent at fault for his injuries, making the contractor responsible for only its share of a $21,046 verdict – less than a quarter of what the plaintiff originally sought in damages. Stacy v. Barlow Homes et. al, Fayette.

A renter was doing caulking work on a ladder when the ladder collapsed underneath her. One month passed before she first sought treatment for her injuries. She subsequently sued her landlord for her medical treatment and lost wages, as well as $100,000 in suffering. Richardson Law Group argued that not only had the plaintiff disregarded her own safety, but also pointed out the delay in treatment to the jury. The jury gave her $11,500, rejecting her claims for impairment and suffering.