Court of Appeals affirms summary dismissal of one defendant; reverses trial judge and grants summary disposition to landowner
Carol Estapa sued Alternative Community Living, Inc., and its landlord, Gordon Properties, after she suffered severe injuries in a fall while leaving the ACLI doorway. She had responded to ACLI for an appointment but was directed to a different office entryway. As the receptionist led her to the door and pointed to the proper entryway, Estapa expressed her appreciation, stepped out the door and fell on ice. The Court held that the ice at the entryway was "open and obvious" and that if Estapa had been looking down, rather than turning to thank the receptionist, she would have seen, and thus avoided, the ice. Since the hazard was "open and obvious" the land possessor, ACLI, owed no duty to visitors to take reasonable steps to make it safe.
The Court also overturned the lower court and summarily dismissed the claim against the landlord. In addition to her basic claim, Estapa had argued that the landlord was negligent in failing to repair a run-off gutter condition that created ice in the entryway. In a prior ruling, the appellate court had erred in summarily dismissing both counts of Estapa's lawsuit (one for negligence and another for premises liability). This time the Court held that since Estapa did not originally object to the Court's erroneous dismissal of both counts, she was precluded from raising the issue on this appeal. So the Court's prior error stands--and it cannot be cured because the injured woman did not call the court on its error early enough.