Where a defendant has changed its story regarding relevant facts, leaving material facts in dispute, summary judgment is inappropriate.
In Schacklett v. Rose, No. M2017-01650-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. May 2, 2018), plaintiff filed a premises liability claim after falling at defendants’ home. Plaintiff was a catering employee who had entered the home in the daylight using outdoor stairs that led to the kitchen. At the end of the evening, she left by the same stairs, and she fell “through a break in the railing,” landing on concrete. According to plaintiff, “there were no house lights and the motion lights on the steps…were not operating,” and “the entire area was dark.”
When defendant homeowners answered the complaint, they denied that there were no lights and that motion sensor lights were in place. They also “denied that the entire area was dark and therefore dangerous.” Later, in response to requests for admissions, defendants “stated that the outside lighting was working on the night of the accident.” They further asserted that instead of having motion sensor lights that were not working, they had “overrode the timer by placing the lights ‘all on’ for the party.” When defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, however, they asserted that “the exterior lights were off when [plaintiff] fell, and [plaintiff] was negligent in failing to turn the lights on before proceeding down the stairs.”