In general, a landowner owes a customer, also known as a business invitee, two independent duties (1) to maintain the premises in a reasonably safe condition and (2) to give warning of concealed perils. Often times, when litigating premises liability cases, the defense will move for summary judgment, alleging that there is no genuine issue of material fact that the landowner met his duty.
This was the case in a recent appellate court decision. In the case of Cruz-Haymer v. Festival Food Market, 38 Fla. L. Weekly D1581 (Fla. 4th DCA July 24, 2013), the Plaintiff knew a mat was present outside the front door of the grocery store. Further the Plaintiff knew the mat was not secured to the ground but when the Plaintiff left the store, she tripped or hooked her foot as a result of a hump on the mat. As a result she fell and suffered an injury.
In response to the lawsuit, the defense moved for summary judgment and the trial court granted the defense motion finding that there was no genuine issue of material fact regarding whether the dangerous condition was open and obvious. The appellate court ruled that while the trial court correctly held that the mat was an open and obvious danger, the trial court erred in entering summary judgment.
The appellate court ruled that the obviousness of a danger only discharges the landowners duty to warn and not to maintain his premises, thus there was an issue of fact regarding whether the defendant should have expected that invitees would likely to trip over a rumpled mat, despite the fact that the mat’s existence and condition was open and obvious.
If you have been injured on the property of another we invite you to contact Givens Givens Sparks for a free case evaluation. During the case evaluation, we will address the legal issues surrounding your case. These will include the anticipated defenses that may be raised by the defendant.