One of the benefits of living in California is that many parts of the state have great weather. Due to the pleasant conditions, lots of restaurants have outdoor patio seating for patrons to enjoy their meals under the sun. However, sometimes disaster strikes. In this case, a woman was eating lunch on the patio of a restaurant when she was bit by a spider, which was later discovered to be a black widow spider. After being hospitalized with weakness and numbness due to the injuries, the woman who was bitten sued the restaurant where the bite occurred for damages. If you have been hurt in any way while on the premises of another individual or a business, they may be liable for your injuries. That’s why it is so important to contact a skilled Southern California premises liability attorney as soon as possible if you are injured, even if at first it may not seem to be the fault of the establishment.
The main legal concept in this case is negligence. In order to prevail on a negligence claim, the plaintiff must prove that the negligent party had a duty to them that it breached. Generally, businesses and individuals have a duty to act reasonably under the circumstances. What is and is not reasonable is usually a question for the jury. The jury looks at all the facts of the case and then decides whether the defendant’s behavior was reasonable or not. There are some areas where the law has specifically carved out exceptions, but generally the concepts of negligence law will apply.
When one side makes a motion for summary judgment, the court will look at the facts in the light most favorable to the other party. In order to prevail, the moving party needs to show that there aren’t any major issues of fact to figure out, and judgment should be granted in favor of the moving party. In this case, the restaurant argued that it was unforeseeable and there was no way for them to know that there was an actual risk of being bitten by black widow spiders. They also argued that even if their duty to protect patrons from black widow spider bites existed, they had pest control and other precautions in place to reasonably protect patrons.
The trial court agreed with the restaurant and granted summary judgment in their favor. If summary judgment was upheld, the case would be thrown out and the patron would be responsible for their own injuries.
Findings of the Case
In this case, the court overturned the summary judgment motion. The Appeals Court held that whether or not the restaurant acted reasonably in these circumstances is a question for the jury to decide. Therefore, the case can go forward.
The judge in this case explained that it’s not clear based on the facts what would be reasonable for the restaurant to have done, and that’s a question for the jury. For example, should the restaurant have warned patrons about black widow spiders? Used a special pesticide targeted at black widows? Have the restaurant employees keep an eye out for spiders and report them to management? While the jury may ultimately end up finding that the restaurant had no liability and did what they should have done to protect patrons, this remains a question for the jury, not a judge.
Contact an Experienced Southern California Premises Liability Attorney Today
As you can see, these inquiries are very fact specific. It is difficult to know what your rights are without talking to a skilled premises liability attorney. The knowledgeable premises liability attorneys at Neumann Law Group serve clients in Southern California, including Los Angeles and Huntington Beach. Contact them today at (213) 277-0001 or use the contact form on this website to schedule your free consultation.