Premises' liability aspect of tree-cutting claim is dismissed; negligence survives
Kamal Fayad agreed to help the Darwichs cut down a tree in their yard. While Ismail Darwich cut the tree with a chainsaw, Mr. Fayad and Souha Darwich prepared to guide it down with ropes. Unfortunately, when Ismail finished his cut, Souha dropped her rope and ran, and the tree fell on Fayad. He filed a negligence action. The trial court dismissed Fayad's complaint, holding that it sounded only in "premises liability" and that felling the tree was an "open and obvious" danger as to which the Darwichs owed no legal duty.
The Court of Appeals overturned the summary judgment granted by the trial court, pointing out that in this case, Souha Darwich's alleged duty arose in part from her negligent participation in the tree-felling activity. Her alleged negligence was not related to her ownership or control of the land where the injury occurred. Therefore, an ordinary negligence claim had been pleaded and a duty of reasonable care existed; there were sufficient factual allegations to create a material question of negligence which a jury would need to decide.