Hotel guest can sue company that plows lot, but not hotel
Susan Muskett fell on black ice in the parking lot of a Kent County Residence Inn, suffering a fracture. She sued the hotel owners, Grand Prix Floating Lessee, and Birch Tree Bark & Stone, the company that had agreed to remove snow and plow the lot. The trial court dismissed Muskett' claim, holding that the ice was "open and obvious," eliminating any hotel duty to Muskett, and that the contractor owed no duty because it's sole duty was to the Hotel.
On appeal, the appellate panel reversed the decision as to the plow company, only. It held that since Muskett had grown up in Michigan prior to moving to North Carolina, she was "on notice" of the potential for ice during a winter day [thereby making it "obvious," or just foreseeable...?] With regard to the contractor, however, the Court ruled that it owed a duty to plow the lot with reasonable care and that factual issues remained to be resolved: if the contractor was negligent, it would have violated its common law duty to remove snow with reasonable care.