JACKThis is crazy.
I know. It doesn't make any sense. That's why I trust it.
On January 11, 1998, Lottie Branham was enjoying the movie "Titanic" at the Loews Cinema at 86th Street, here in Manhattan. During the course of the 194-minute movie, Branham left her seat to use the restroom. Upon her return, she twisted her knee and fractured her arm when she stumbled over a young boy who was sitting in the aisle.
Branham later filed a negligence lawsuit against the theatre's operator (Loews) and the building's owner, alleging that the defendants "failed to maintain the premises in reasonably safe condition by permitting a child to sit in the aisle of a darkened movie theatre, thereby creating a trip hazard, and by failing to have adequate lighting in the theatre during the movie."
Loews moved for summary judgment -- a disposition of the case without a formal hearing or trial -- asserting lack of "actual or constructive notice" of the child's positioning and further claiming that the theatre's lighting was legally sufficient. The New York County Supreme Court disagreed, citing, in part, to the chain's policy of requiring ushers to patrol the theatre every 15 to 20 minutes. The lower court concluded the there was a "question of fact" as to whether the theatre had notice of the child's seating arrangement.
On appeal, the Appellate Division, First Department, reversed. Relying on Branham's own testimony -- that she saw no one in the aisle when she took her bathroom break and that she was out of the theatre for a gap of only seven or eight minutes -- the appellate court concluded that the child was not seated in the aisle for more than eight minutes and thus could not have been discovered by the theatre's personnel (despite the internal aisle-check policy).
With that, Branham's case sunk.
For a copy of the Appellate Division's decision in Branham v. Loews Orpheum Cinemas, Inc, please click on the following link:
On April 3, 2007, New York's highest court affirmed the dismissal of Branham's case. (So, no part of this "Titantic" is coming up for air, that's for sure.)
For a copy of the Court of Appeals's decision, please use this link: http://www.courts.state.ny.us/reporter/3dseries/2007/2007_02792.htm