Court Rejects Plaintiff’s Premises Liability Case Because Hazard Was “Open and Obvious”

Earlier this month, a federal appellate court issued a written opinion in a premises liability lawsuit brought by a man who was injured while loading purchased rolls of insulation into his truck. The case required the court to determine whether the large, unstable stack of insulation that fell on top of the plaintiff was an “open and obvious” hazard. Ultimately, the court concluded that the hazard was open and obvious, and thus it determined that the business did not owe a duty to the plaintiff.

The case is important for Maryland accident victims to understand because it illustrates one of the avenues a defendant in a Maryland premises liability lawsuit may take in an attempt to evade legal responsibility.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff and his son purchased several large rolls of insulation from the defendant hardware store. Due to their size, the rolls were kept in a separate storage warehouse. The cashier told the plaintiff to drive to the warehouse, where he could find the rolls and load them into his car.

When the plaintiff arrived at the warehouse, he noticed the rolls of insulation were stacked high. Although he did not see it at the time, there was also a sign indicating any customer who needed assistance should call for an employee to help load the merchandise. The plaintiff noticed one stack in particular seemed especially unstable. After surveying the other stacks, the plaintiff decided that he and his son could remove their purchased rolls from the other stacks without disturbing the unstable stack. However, as the plaintiff and his son were loading the rolls, the unstable stack fell on top of the plaintiff. As a result, the plaintiff sustained a serious injury to his shoulder.

The plaintiff filed a premises liability lawsuit against the defendant hardware store. The hardware store argued that it did not owe the plaintiff a duty of care because the hazard that caused his injuries was open and obvious.

The Court’s Analysis

The court agreed with the defendant and affirmed the dismissal of the plaintiff’s lawsuit. The court explained that, while business owners generally have a duty to ensure that their property is safe for customers, business owners need not warn or protect customers against hazards that are open and obvious.

Here, the court agreed that the stack of unstable insulation rolls was open and obvious. The court pointed out that the plaintiff’s own testimony indicated that he knew the stack was precarious. The court noted that the plaintiff would not have taken care to avoid the unstable stack had he not recognized that it was dangerous.

Have You Been Injured on Another Party’s Property?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured on the property of another party, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a Maryland premises liability lawsuit. The dedicated Maryland injury lawyers at the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers have extensive experience handling all types of injury claims, including slip-and-fall accidents and other premises liability cases. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation with an attorney from Lebowitz & Mzhen to discuss your case, call 410-654-3600 today.

More Blog Posts:

Court Holds Hotel May Have Voluntarily Assumed Duty to Provide Aid to Imperiled Guest, Maryland Accident Law Blog, February 15, 2018.

The Revisionary Power of Maryland Courts, Maryland Accident Law Blog, March 1, 2018.

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