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City of Dallas v. Thompson – Case Brief Summary (Texas)

In City of Dallas v. Thompson, 210 S.W.3d 601 (Tex. 2006), an "improperly secured, metal, expansion-joint coverplate" (plate) on the floor of the lobby area of Dallas Love Field airport had protruded, and a patron--Margaret Thompson--tripped, fell, and injured herself. Id. at 602-03.

Thompson alleged that the City of Dallas had actual knowledge that the plate was a dangerous condition because employees of the city had walked through the area, including on the day of the accident. Id. The city knew that the plate could become loose or raise suddenly over time with ordinary wear and tear, and employees would tighten it when that occurred. Id.

Accident logs reflected reports of people tripping where Thompson had tripped, but no reports had been filed in the previous three years. Id.

An expert for Thompson testified that the city had actual knowledge because it must have known of the condition when its employees were in the vicinity and had walked over the cover plate just hours before Thompson's fall. Id. at 603-04.

The supreme court held that the prior reports and the employees' proximity to the hazard (without evidence of how long the protrusion had existed), as well as the use of an additional screw to secure the plate, did not constitute actual knowledge of a dangerous condition. Id.