Summary Judgment Granted in Open and Obvious Hazard Case

Greg Kuderer, with the assistance of Tom Brock and Madeline Davis, represented a private property owner in a premises liability “slip and fall” case.  The plaintiff, hired occasionally by defendant as a day laborer, claimed defendant was liable for injuries and damages after plaintiff fell from defendant’s roof.  Plaintiff alleged defendant had duties to warn plaintiff of the hazards in climbing on a roof, and to provide a safer way up the roof.

We successfully moved for the court to dismiss the case based on the lack of a legal duty because the hazards of climbing on a roof are open and obvious.  The plaintiff argued defendant should have told plaintiff how to get on the roof, assisted him, or not have him provided with work shoes. (The plaintiff had been working in his socks).  The district court disagreed with plaintiff, and held that since he had experience working on roofs, and testified that climbing on a roof was inherently dangerous, he required no warning.  Additionally, the court concluded that plaintiff could have asked for help, climbed the roof in any way he sought fit, and/or not worn defendant’s shoes.  The district court correctly dismissed plaintiff’s claims with prejudice.

Premises liability can present nuanced legal doctrines which can significantly impact the outcome of a case.  A thorough understanding of these doctrines are crucial.  If you have any questions about this, or any other matter, please contact us.