Lawrence v. La Jolla Beach & Tennis ClubAnnotate this Case
When he was five years old, plaintiff Michael Lawrence fell from a window in his family's second story hotel room at the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club and suffered serious head and brain injuries. Michael's parents, Nan Lawrence and Jeff Lawrence, filed a first amended complaint against La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club, Inc. and La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club Partners, L.P. seeking damages sounding in negligence: "Negligence," "Dangerous Condition of Property," and "Negligent Infliction Of Emotional Distress." Michael, through his mother as guardian ad litem, later filed a separate complaint alleging the same causes of action. After the court consolidated the cases, defendants filed separate motions for summary judgment on the two complaints. The court granted both motions and entered judgment in favor of defendants. Plaintiffs contended on appeal that the court erred in ruling: (1) defendants had no duty and breached no duty to install a fall prevention device on the window from which Michael fell; and (2) the accident was not caused by defendants' failure to install a fall prevention device on the window. The Court of Appeal reversed. On the record presented, the Court concluded defendants failed to carry their burden on summary judgment to establish they owed no duty to take measures to prevent the type of accident that occurred in this case. Based on the facts in record, a trier of fact could have reasonably found that defendants breached their duty to take measures to prevent an accident like Michael's. Because a trier of fact could have reasonably found defendants were negligent in failing to take reasonable measures that would have prevented Michael's accident, it could have also reasonably found that defendants' negligence was a substantial factor in causing the accident.