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Martin v. City of Asbury Park

Decided: September 27, 1933.

ISABELLE MARTIN ET AL., PLAINTIFFS-RESPONDENTS,
v.
CITY OF ASBURY PARK, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



On appeal from the Supreme Court.

For the appellant, James D. Carton.

For the respondents, Francis A. Gordon, John M. Mackenzie and Samuel J. Marantz.

Campbell

The opinion of the court was delivered by

CAMPBELL, CHANCELLOR. On July 27th, 1929, respondent Isabelle Martin was in a bathing pavilion, known as "Unit 8," constructed and owned by the appellant, city of Asbury Park, and by it leased with other bathing privileges to one Mitchell.

Mrs. Martin rented a bath house in this "unit" and, on the day mentioned, after being in the ocean and on the beach had gone to the showers provided in the pavilion and from there she proceeded to a stairway leading to the floor upon which her bathing compartment was located. She says the treads of the steps were wet, slippery and slimy; and so was the handrail, and that when she had reached the fourth or fifth step her foot slipped, she lost her hold on the rail and, there being only open risers, she was thrown backward and downward to the floor below and injured.

She, with her husband, brought suit against the city, and Mitchell, its lessee, a trial of which cause resulted in a verdict of $23,000 in favor of the plaintiffs-respondents, against the city-appellant only, the jury finding no cause of action

against the city's lessee, Mitchell. This verdict was subsequently reduced to $18,000, and from the judgment entered thereon the city appeals, urging several grounds for reversal under three points.

It is first urged that the trial court erred in refusing to direct a nonsuit. Under this it is argued: 1. No negligence in construction, or nuisance created by faulty construction, was shown by any proof that the steps were unsafe, improper or inadequate for the purpose for which they were designed and constructed.

Among the several charges of liability as against the city, is the outstanding one of improper construction of the stairway.

Much of the testimony, in this direction, is from the respondents' witness, Schmeider, which is largely devoted to the height of risers, widths of treads and matters of construction of a like character, which, to us, appears to be irrelevant to the actual situation which evidently caused the happening.

This witness did, however, testify that he was familiar with the standard and generally approved methods of construction of stairways in bathing establishments, frequented by large numbers of persons at seashore resorts, and that such methods required a non-slip tread or nosing for the purpose of making them non-slip, a condition and method of construction not ...


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