Family of man who died after fall at car dealership cannot sue dealership; Court says he could have avoided dangerous condition by not delivering car payment.
Barbara A. Hall sued Blue Ribbon Motor Sales after her husband, Nelson Hall, fell on the sidewalk outside the "customer entrance" to the dealership, while attempting to enter to make a car payment. Hall alleged that her husband fell after stepping in a puddle at the doorway, and that the sidewalk had not been reasonably maintained for the safety of customers. The Court rejected her claim on the basis that the puddle was "observable" and therefore "open and obvious." Under the Republican analysis of the open and obvious doctrine, a landowner owes no obligation to remedy hazards that a visitor--even a business customer invited to the property--might see.
The Court also held that the "open and obvious" hazard was not "unavoidable" because Hall could simply not have made his car payment when he encountered a hazard at the doorway. He was not "inescapably required to confront" the condition: this exception would apply only if Hall had been "trapped" in the building after entry. One wonders what world these judges live in, when it is more reasonable to refuse to pay your bills than it is to take reasonable steps to eliminate a hazard confronting your customers: to his credit, Judge Douglas Shapiro refused to affix his signature to this opinion.