Woman who tripped on three-inch step could sue

Nancy Brown was taking a tour of a house she was thinking of renting when she tripped over a threshold on a three-inch drop from one room to the next. She fell down the unmarked step and broke her hip and femur.

Nancy brought a lawsuit against the property owners, claiming that the three-inch drop was a tripping hazard. Although the floor of one room was made of wood and the floor of the other was vinyl tile, the two floors were apparently the exact same color, which made the drop-off very difficult to see, Nancy claimed. She said the owners should have warned her of the drop or done something to highlight it. A simple floor threshold alerting the person that there was a step down would have prevented this fall.

The owners argued that steps between rooms are common and that the step in this case didn’t violate the building code. And a judge initially threw the suit out.

But the Tennessee Court of Appeals disagreed, and said Nancy had a case. It said a jury should decide whether the “invisible” step was dangerous enough that the owners could be held responsible for the injury.

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