KRISTIN R. BROSNAN, Plaintiff-Appellant,
STAN WOODMAN and MYRA WOODMAN d/b/a ARAGON TAP, Defendants-Appellees.
from the Iowa District Court for Dubuque County, Monica L.
Zrinyi Wittig, Judge.
patron injured in a fall from a barstool appeals the grant of
summary judgment for the tavern owners on her negligence
T. Hoover of Hoover Law Firm P.L.L.C., Epworth, for
L. Shaff and Brandon W. Lobberecht of Betty, Neuman &
McMahon, P.L.C., Davenport, for appellees.
Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Doyle and Tabor, JJ.
Brosnan appeals the district court's grant of summary
judgment in her negligence action against Aragon Tap and Stan
and Myra Woodman.Because the court properly relied on video
evidence in determining the record revealed no genuine issue
of material fact, we affirm.
Facts and Prior Proceedings
July 2014, Brosnan went to Aragon Tap for drinks with a
friend. She gravitated to her "usual place" near
the kitchen-choosing to sit on a barstool with a
back. While there, she drank Bud Light and shots
of cinnamon schnapps. She stepped outside a few times to
smoke cigarettes but always returned to the same seat. She
recalls being at the bar for about an hour and a half before
her fall. In an interrogatory, Brosnan alleges, while seated,
she leaned back to stretch her legs. As she did so, she
claims the seat back reclined though it was "not
supposed to recline." In her words, "[N]ext thing
here I am falling backwards." She reported hitting the
back of her head on the floor. Other patrons surrounded her
and one of the regulars called for medical assistance.
Brosnan sustained serious injuries to her neck and could no
Tap does not dispute Brosnan sustained injuries while in the
bar. But the owners supplied security-video footage of the
bar's interior at the time of her fall that contradicts
part of her story. The video exhibit shows a person matching
Brosnan's description sitting on the stool she identified
as hers. That person doubles over and then falls forward
toward the bar. The nearly two hours of footage shows no
person falling backward from a stool. And Brosnan agrees she
was the only person who fell in Aragon Tap on July 30, 2014.
those documented facts, Brosnan still denies she was the
person depicted falling in the video. But she could not
explain the video evidence, which the district court found
uncontroverted. In fact, Aragon Tap submitted an affidavit
from David Herrig, a security expert, who stated it was
impossible to alter or partially delete any part of the
security video without deleting all of the footage. He also
swore the exhibit was "a true and accurate copy of the
video footage recorded by the Aragon Tap's security
cameras on July 30, 2014."
alternatively claims, even if the video does portray her
falling forward, the direction she fell is irrelevant to her
negligence claim. To show Aragon Tap's negligent
maintenance of the stool, Brosnan offered a "barstool
evaluation report" by Jason Sanders. Sanders's
written report found the stool had been improperly repaired
in the past. Sanders opined the stool's age and
dilapidated condition signaled "a very high risk of
failure." But Sanders did not report having viewed the
surveillance video. And when Aragon Tap called Sanders for a
deposition, he did not appear.
sued Aragon Tap, alleging the bar was negligent in
maintaining its bar stools. According to Brosnan, because of
Aragon Tap's negligence, she fell backward and sustained
her injuries. Aragon Tap sought summary judgment, citing the
video evidence to bolster its position Brosnan could not
prove she was injured after falling backward on a
district court acknowledged Aragon Tap's barstools
"were as ancient as the Egyptian Pyramids." But the
court also relied on the video to determine Brosnan fell
forward-so a barstool with a defective back could not have
caused her injuries. The district court granted summary