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Court emphasizes "casual inspection" standard that applies to "open and obvious" defense

Christopher Karim's mother-in-law, Regina Konia, asked him to stop by her house to help her extract a Christmas wreath from her attic.  When Karim arrived, Regina led him into the attic above the garage and pointed out a particular box stored among several others.  When he stepped over to pick up the box, Karim inadvertently stepped in an area where the floor joists were not covered in plywood and fell to the garage floor below. The Konia's homeowners' insurance persuaded the trial judge to dismiss Karim's injury claim on the grounds that they owed no duty to warn Christopher or to eliminate the potential hazard he encountered.

On appeal, the unanimous Court of Appeals panel overturned the lower court's opinion.  It pointed out that Regina acknowledged that from Christopher's perspective, it was not possible to observe that the plyood flooring did not extend to the area where Karim stepped to pick up the box with the wreath.  As a result, objectively considered, the hazard of the uncovered floor joists was not "obvious on casual inspection," let alone "wholy revealed" as required by previous appellate decisions.  "A hazard visible only from certain vantage points is not 'open and obvious' "  where a person in the plaintiff's position would not foresee the danger on casual inspection.
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