The Supreme Court of Kentucky recently published an opinion reversing two lower courts’ decisions that had granted judgment to the defendant in a lawsuit filed by a man who was injured when he slipped and fell outside the shower while staying at the defendant’s hotel. The trial court and state court of appeals had ruled that the plaintiff failed to exercise ordinary care to avoid injuring himself, and hotels are not the insurers of their guests’ safety. The Supreme Court found the lower courts’ analysis insufficient and reversed the rulings, remanding the case back to the trial court for further proceedings.
The Plaintiff Slips in a Hotel Bathroom
The plaintiff in the case of Goodwin v. Al J. Snider was a guest at the defendant’s hotel. After he took a shower in his room, he got out and slipped on the bathroom floor, injuring his knee. There was not a bathmat in the hotel bathroom at the time of the fall, although other rooms had bathmats, and the hotel later supplied him with one upon request.
The plaintiff later filed a slip and fall lawsuit, alleging that the defendant violated the duty it owed to guests to exercise reasonable care to warn guests of the dangerous condition presented by a slippery floor or to take measures to lessen the dangers presented.
The Trial Court Is Unconvinced by Plaintiff’s Arguments
According to the discussion of facts in the written opinion, the lack of a bathmat in the room played a central role in the plaintiff’s case. The plaintiff attempted to prove that the defendant had a strict duty to provide bathmats in all rooms, and the court rejected the plaintiff’s argument that the duty was made clear by the fact that bathmats were provided to some rooms and that he was furnished one after his fall upon request. The court found that the defendant’s duty was limited to correcting or warning guests of an unreasonably dangerous condition, and a slippery floor outside a shower was an obvious and not unreasonably dangerous condition. As a result of these findings, the trial court entered a summary judgment in the defendant’s favor, a ruling that was upheld by the state court of appeals.
The State Supreme Court Disagrees with the Lower Courts
The Supreme Court of Kentucky reversed the lower rulings, making clear that the existence of a landowner’s duty to exercise reasonable care is distinct from the obviousness of a dangerous condition. The court stated that the general duty of ordinary care is not eliminated simply because a hazard is obvious, and a landowner may be required to make reasonable efforts to correct a dangerous condition, even if it is obvious. Reversing the judgments, the Court noted that summary judgment can only be appropriate in premises liability cases when a situation cannot be corrected by any means or when it is beyond dispute that a landowner did all that was reasonable. Based on the reversal, the plaintiff may receive damages by the continuation of the proceedings or a settlement agreement.
South Florida Slip-and-Fall Victims Can Obtain Relief
If you or a loved one has been injured in a Florida slip-and-fall accident or another incident occurring at another party’s business, organization, or home, you may be entitled to relief by making a premises liability or negligence claim. The South Florida premises liability attorneys at Friedman, Rodman & Frank have the knowledge and experience to help our clients seek the compensation they deserve while holding landowners to their statutory duties to prevent unreasonable risks of harm to their guests. Contact us today to get started. You can schedule a no-obligation consultation and discuss your case with an experienced attorney by calling 877-448-8585 or by using our easy online form.
More Blog Posts:
State Supreme Court Refuses to Enforce Arbitration Clause Against Young Injury Victim, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published November 3, 2016.
Appellate Court Rejects $885,000 Verdict Against Educational Institution in Auto-Pedestrian Accident Case, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published October 19, 2016.