In March 2019, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Georgia personal injury case discussing the element of causation, as well as the type and quantity of evidence that a plaintiff must present to survive a defense motion for summary judgment. Ultimately, the court concluded that the plaintiff failed to present any evidence showing that the defendant’s actions caused her injuries. Thus, the court affirmed the lower court’s decision to grant the defendant’s motion for summary judgment.
According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was a homeowner who hired the defendant to install a smoke detector system in her home. In the months after the installation, the plaintiff called the defendant several times because the system was not working. The last time the defendant was at the plaintiff’s home was November 2007.
In August 2008, the plaintiff was cooking on the stove when she went to lie on the couch. The plaintiff inadvertently nodded off, and after an estimated three or four minutes, she woke up to the smell of smoke. The plaintiff went into the kitchen, but because of the smoke, she was unsure whether the source of the smoke was the pan or the chicken that she was cooking. As the plaintiff turned the stove knob to the off position, she poured flour into the pan, in an attempt to smother the flame. The contents of the pan bubbled over onto her hand, causing serious burns. The smoke detector did not sound an alarm, and it was later determined that the smoke detector did not have a required piece installed.