Court summarily dismisses man's claim relating to fall leaving doctors' offices
Alfred Miller was leaving the offices of Pulmonary and Internal Medicine Specialists at 6:45 am after a sleep study. He fell on the ice and suffered a serious injury. The sleep technician who accompanied Miller agreed one could not see the ice because it was "clear" and not visible. Miller's attorneys presented the testimony of a meterologist to confirm that the ice accumulated between 2 and 3 am and argued that commercial entity should reasonably have inspected and discoverred the "black ice" before Miller left after the study. The trial judge summarily dismissed Miller's case, holding that Miller had proved no violation of duty by the landowner. Miller appealed.
The Court of Appeals held that Miller's weather expert's proofs did not raise a fact issue about the landowner's duty to investigate or respond to the freezing precipitation. Incredibly, it cited a previous case holding that knowledge of weather conditions was equally available to the landowner and the victim--putting both on notice--despite the fact that the landonwer of a commercial facility owes a broader duty to investigate hazardous conditions. Reliance on this precedent was also startling in this case, in that it amounted to a decision by the court that a four-hour delay in responding to a potential hazard "is not negligent" as a matter of law, or is less negligent than a sleep study participant's failure to monitor the weather during his sleep.