Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a Florida premise liability lawsuit discussing a landowner’s liability involving potentially hazardous conditions of the property. Specifically, the case dealt with a hazard that the court held to be “open and obvious.” The court held that because the hazard was easily observable by the plaintiff, the plaintiff was put on notice of the hazard’s existence and thus, the defendant could not be held liable for the plaintiff’s injuries.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiff was exiting a movie theater when he left the paved sidewalk to cut through a planter box containing a large palm tree. The ground immediately around the base of the palm tree contained artificial turf and some paving bricks that had become uneven as the tree’s roots grew underneath.
As the plaintiff walked across the planter box, he tripped and fell in a divot in the ground. The plaintiff sustained serious injuries as a result of the fall and filed a premises liability lawsuit against the movie theater.
The theater filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that landscaped areas are generally not considered to be “dangerous conditions” under the law, and that by choosing to leave the paved sidewalk and walk across the planter box the plaintiff should have expected uneven terrain. The plaintiff responded by arguing that the “open and obvious” doctrine does not apply to artificial terrain and that the theater should have expected pedestrians would walk across the planter box given its proximity to the sidewalk.
The Court’s Decision
The court agreed with the defendant, dismissing the plaintiff’s case. The court explained that under the “open and obvious” doctrine, a landowner is not liable for a visitor’s injuries caused by a hazard that it clearly visible, unless the landowner should expect that injury may still occur despite the obviousness of the hazard. Additionally, the court noted that, under previous case law, landscaping features are generally not considered to be dangerous conditions requiring further warning.
Here, the court held, the landscaping features contained in the planter box were clearly visible and constituted an open and obvious hazard that the plaintiff should have noticed prior to entering. The court also explained that the landscaping was not so “inherently dangerous” as to require additional warning or action from the defendant landowner. Thus, the plaintiff’s case was dismissed.
Have You Been Injured in a Florida Slip-and-Fall Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Florida slip-and-fall accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a Florida premises liability lawsuit. As is the case with all Florida personal injury lawsuits, it is imperative that you discuss your case with a dedicated Florida personal injury attorney as soon as possible. The South Florida injury lawyers at the law firm of Friedman Rodman & Frank have extensive experience representing injury victims and their families in a wide range of Florida personal injury claims, including those arising from Florida slip-and-fall accidents. Call 877-448-8585 to schedule your free consultation today.
More Blog Posts:
Claims Against Government Employees and Agencies Must Comply with the Requirements of the FTCA, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published August 31, 2018.
Jury Holds Railroad Company Liable for Fatal Train Accident, Court Upholds $10.4 Million Verdict, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published August 8, 2018.