Articles Posted in Premises Liability

The plaintiff sued defendant Target for injuries due to the defendant’s negligence. The plaintiff claimed she was cut by a plastic price tag holder that was sticking out into the aisle. The jury returned a verdict in the defendant’s favor, finding there was no dangerous condition. Finding that the appellate record and the plaintiff’s briefs were inadequate for appellate review, the Second District Court of Appeal affirmed in this California premises liability case.

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At trial, the plaintiff’s husband testified that he and his wife were shopping at the Burbank Target in September 2010. As the plaintiff was pushing her cart through the shoe department, she cut her pinky finger on a price tag sign that was extending horizontally into the aisle. The plaintiff attempted to complete an incident report but was told by the defendant’s staff that there were no blank forms for her to complete. Her husband later called the store to report the incident and left a message, but his call was never returned.

The defendant’s employees testified that a guest would not be denied a guest incident report and that a report would have been completed by the defendant’s staff if an incident was reported and the guest did not wish to complete a form. There was no report completed by anyone for the alleged incident. They also testified to their procedures of sweeping for hazards in the store and stated that it was impossible for a price tag sign to extend horizontally into an aisle.

On October 1, 2017, a gunman opened fire on a crowd of concertgoers at the Route 91 Harvest music festival on the Las Vegas strip. The gunman fired hundreds of rifle rounds from his suite on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel. The shooting left 58 people dead and 546 injured, making it the deadliest mass shooting committed by an individual in the United States. A California college student who was injured at the shooting recently filed suit against the concert promoter, the Mandalay Bay hotel owners, and the bump stock manufacturers. The case may have some relevance to certain California premises liability cases that may arise in these tragic situations.

Las Vegas
The lawsuit claims that MGM Resorts International, which owns both the hotel and the concert venue, failed to respond in a timely manner to the shooting of a hotel security officer who had gone to the 32nd floor to check on an alert from another guest room and who was shot six minutes before the massacre began. The lawsuit also questions why hotel staff failed to notice the gunman’s behavior prior to the mass shooting.

Specifically, the plaintiff claims that MGM Resorts and concert promoter Live Nation breached their duty of reasonable care and knew or should have known that it was reasonably foreseeable that a breach of their duty to keep the concert venue safe could result in serious or fatal injuries to concert attendees. Specifically, the gunman brought in 10 suitcases of weapons and over 500 rounds, and he barricaded himself in his room without any staff noticing.

Two people recently filed a California premises liability claim based on an alleged beating in the Dodger Stadium parking lot following a 2015 playoff game. The victim claims to have suffered a traumatic brain injury from the attack. The plaintiffs filed suit in L.A. Superior Court against the Dodgers and the two alleged attackers. The lawsuit claims negligence, negligent hiring, premises liability, intentional infliction of emotional distress, battery, assault, and loss of consortium. The victim’s wife claims she has lost the companionship and love of her husband since he was injured.

Mets fan
According to court documents, the victim attended the first game of the National League Division Series on October 9, 2015 against the Mets. He is a Dodgers fan, but his cousin, also in attendance, is a Mets fan who wore a Mets hat.

The Mets won the game. The victim and his friends left the stadium at around 10 p.m. Outside, they were confronted by the assailants, who shouted vulgarities at the group. By the time the group reached the handicapped parking area, the assailants began to “brutally attack” him. One of them allegedly struck the victim in the head. Losing consciousness, he fell to the pavement. The assailants nonetheless began to kick the victim while he lay unconscious on the ground.

Following the drowning death of his five-year-old son in a swimming pool owned by other homeowners, a father brought suit against the homeowners for general negligence and premises liability. Finding that the homeowners owed no duty of care and that there was no evidence a dangerous condition on their property contributed to the tragedy, the trial court granted summary judgment. On appeal, the father contended that he raised issues of fact as to the defendants’ duty of care and the dangerousness of the conditions in and around the pool. The California Court of Appeal for the Second District disagreed and affirmed the lower court’s decision.

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In their statement of undisputed facts, the defendants established that on June 1, 2014, they hosted a gathering at their home. The boy came with his mother. Neither knew how to swim. When they first arrived, one of the homeowners watched the boy in the “kiddie” or wading area, separated from the main pool by a low rock wall, eight to nine inches above the main pool water level. When the boy’s grandfather, a Captain for the Los Angeles City Fire Department, arrived, he told the homeowner he would take over supervising the boy. The grandfather allowed the boy to play in the shallow end of the main pool. At some point, he lost sight of the boy. He heard a girl scream “‘Where is the little boy?’” He stood up and saw the boy underneath the water. He jumped in and pulled the boy out. Efforts by the grandfather and others to resuscitate the boy were unsuccessful.

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A tree branch fell on a woman while she and her boyfriend were walking through Mission Bay Park. She filed suit against the City of San Diego, alleging the existence of a dangerous condition on public property, namely a negligently maintained eucalyptus tree. The city prevailed on summary judgment, arguing that the woman was struck by the tree branch while standing on a trail; thus, the city could not be liable, pursuant to Government Code section 831.4 (trail immunity).tree branch The woman appealed. First, she asserted that trail immunity does not apply under the facts of this case. To this end, she emphasized that her claim of a dangerous condition was based on a negligently maintained eucalyptus tree, rather than the condition of the trail passing through the park. Second, she contended that even if trail immunity did apply, a disputed issue of material fact existed as to where she was located when the branch struck her. The Fourth District Court of Appeal agreed. The woman’s claim in this case did not give rise to trail immunity. In addition, there was a disputed issue of material fact as to where she was when the branch struck her. Thus, the appeals court reversed.

The appeals court therefore first outlined the applicable law. The complaint alleged a single cause of action for a dangerous condition of public property. Pursuant to section 830(a), a dangerous condition of public property means a condition of property that creates a substantial (as distinguished from a minor, trivial, or insignificant) risk of injury when such property or adjacent property is used with due care in a manner in which it is reasonably foreseeable that it will be used. The elements for that cause of action are: (1) a dangerous condition of public property; (2) a foreseeable risk, arising from the dangerous condition, of the kind of injury the plaintiff suffered; (3) actionable conduct in connection with the condition, i.e., either negligence on the part of a public employee in creating it or a failure by the entity to correct it after notice of its existence and dangerousness; (4) a causal relationship between the dangerous condition and the plaintiff’s injuries; and (5) compensable damages sustained by the plaintiff.

The woman argued the city managed and maintained both Mission Bay Park and the trees within it, including the eucalyptus tree whose branch fell on her. She claimed that between 2004 and 2013, a city employee actively and negligently trimmed the tree’s branches, removing low-hanging and hazardous branches. According to her, the city created and was aware of a dangerous condition on public property, namely the negligently maintained branches of the eucalyptus tree. As a result, she alleged the city was liable for the harm caused by the falling branch.

A February lawsuit filed in San Luis Obispo (“SLO”) Superior Court claims that a member of a California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) fraternity chased the plaintiff into a glass panel in the fraternity house. The negligence lawsuit against the fraternity, Alpha Gamma Rho, seeks damages exceeding $25,000. This is one of many controversies in which the fraternity has been involved in recent years.

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The plaintiff was a visitor at the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity house in 2015. When she tried to leave, an unnamed fraternity brother began to chase her to prevent her from exiting the house. She mistook the floor-to-ceiling glass pane for a door and ran through it, causing “severe” but unspecified injuries. Since she was being chased, she alleges, she was forced to make a split-second decision, which contributed to the accident.

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A Southern California man recently filed a lawsuit for negligence and assault against a Las Vegas hotel, claiming a mannequin inside his hotel room frightened him and caused him to suffer injuries while fleeing.

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The plaintiff filed the lawsuit against Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Clark County District Court. He is seeking over $10,000 in damages.

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A 12-year-old severely injured by a 75-foot tree that fell on his tent while he was camping sued PG&E, which owned and maintained a power line in the San Mateo County Memorial Park. The trial court denied the company’s motion for summary judgment under the state’s recreational use immunity statute, codified by California Civil Code section 846. Section 846 grants property owners immunity from tort liability stemming from the use of their property for recreational purposes. The First District Court of Appeal held the company was not immune from suit because the camper paid a fee to San Mateo County.

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The tree was located approximately 30 to 40 feet from PG&E’s power line, within striking distance of the line had it fallen in that direction. PG&E owned and maintained a power line in the county park, and it had a license allowing it to enter the park for the maintenance and inspection of its equipment. The boy’s family paid a fee to enter the park but did not pay PG&E. However, San Mateo County paid PG&E regularly for electricity.

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slingAppellant F.G. sued her landlords A.N. and N.Z. for negligence after she allegedly tripped on the metal “nosing” of a step and fell down a stairway in a common area of her apartment building. The trial court granted defendants’ motion for summary judgment, finding they lacked actual or constructive notice of any dangerous condition on the property and therefore did not breach their duty to exercise ordinary care. The appeals court reversed, concluding the record contained triable issues of material fact regarding whether the stairway constituted a dangerous condition and whether defendants had actual or constructive knowledge of such condition.

At her deposition, F.L. testified that on the morning of November 25, 2011, she left her apartment and started to walk down the stairway leading out to the front of the apartment building. As F.L. was stepping off the second or third step from the top of the stairway, her left foot caught on the metal strip or “nosing” at the edge of the step, causing her to fall and injure herself. F.L. had lived at the apartment building for approximately three years prior to the accident, and never had any problems with the stairway before her fall. She had never complained nor was she aware of anyone else complaining about the stairway.

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Shortly after unknown individuals removed a snow grate in front of a door at Whiskey Creek Restaurant in Mammoth Lakes (the restaurant), plaintiff Edgar Ward Jones walked out the door and fell through the opening in the deck. Jones sued defendant Whiskey Creek Restaurants, Inc. (the owner) for negligence and premises liability. Greg Alexander was the sole shareholder of the owner.

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The owner moved for summary judgment, arguing there was no evidence it breached any duty of care owed to Jones or that any breach proximately caused an injury to him. The trial court granted the motion, finding that video evidence showed the snow grate was removed 9 to 10 seconds before Jones fell through the opening, giving the owner insufficient time to protect Jones. The trial court also explained that foreseeability is a crucial factor for determining the scope of the duty of care. Since there was no evidence the snow grate had ever been removed by third parties before, the trial court held the removal of the grate was not sufficiently foreseeable to impose a duty on the owner to take additional preventative measures. The California Court of Appeal for the Third Appellate District affirmed.

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