Thursday, October 4, 2012

Open and Obvious Condition Results in Summary Judgment

Judge David J. Williamson of the Monroe County Court of Common Pleas recently entered summary judgment in favor of the Defendant in the slip and fall case of Antolik v. Camelback Ski Corp., Inc., PICS Case No. 12-1717 (C.P. Monroe Co. July 23, 2012 Williamson J.).  
In this matter, the Plaintiff visited the Camelback Ski Corp., Inc.’s Camelbeach Water Park.   Before leaving for the day, the Plaintiff went to the women’s locker room to change into dry clothing. 
As the Plaintiff entered the locker room, she admittedly observed a wet floor sign.   At that time, a group of people began to pass the Plaintiff on their way out of the locker room.   While getting out of the way of that group of people, the Plaintiff stepped to her right and into a puddle of water that was about two inches deep and slipped and fell.  The Plaintiff sued the Defendant which, during the course of the litigation, moved for summary judgment.  
Judge Williamson noted that, under Pennsylvania law, a possessor of land does not owe a duty of care to a business invitee when the allegedly dangerous and hazardous condition is known and obvious and the invitee voluntarily continues on despite the presence of the conditions.  
Judge Williamson further noted that, in the case of Howell v. Clyde, 620 A.2d 1107 (Pa. 1993), the Pennsylvania Supreme Court adopted §343A of the Restatement (Second) of Torts and held that a Defendant who would ordinarily have a duty of care will be released from duty when an individual undertakes a known risk.  
In this Antolik case, the court further stated that, although the question of whether a condition is known or obvious is typically an issue to be left for a jury, that question may be decided by the court where reasonable minds could not differ on the conclusion.  
Judge Williamson stated that, according to the record before him, the Plaintiff admitted that, when she saw the wet floor sign, she admittedly anticipated the presence of water in the immediate vicinity. 
Accordingly, the court found that no reasonable minds could differ that the water on the floor was not only a known condition, but also an obvious condition.  Accordingly, the court found that the Defendant did not have a duty to protect the Plaintiff from the dangerous condition and the Plaintiff was unable to establish negligence on the part of the Defendant.   As such, the defense Motion for Summary Judgment was granted.  
Anyone desiring a copy of this case may contact the Pennsylvania Instant Case Service of the Pennsylvania Law Weekly by calling 1-800-276-7427.
Source:  Case Digests, Pennsylvania Law Weekly (September 25, 2012)
Source of (not the image of the subject accident)

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