Tow truck driver who falls on icy driveway has no recourse
Andrew Barrett was called to the defendant's home to start Tamara Allen's car. He encountered a steep, icy driveway, and walked up a dirt path in the center of the drive to explain to Ms. Allen's father that he could not operate his tow truck up the drive to her car. On his way back down, he fell and suffered a fractured scapula and deranged shoulder. When Allen's insurer would not pay reasonable compensation, he filed a lawsuit against her. The Trial Court and the Appeals Court held that Barrett's claim should be dismissed because he knowingly exposed himself to an "open and obvious" danger, even though he claimed to have fallen on black ice. The Court held that given icy conditions on the road driving to Allen's home, and the visible winter weather environment, the ice where Barrett fell was a hazard "visible on casual inspection," even if the black ice, itself, was not. Under the Engler majority's revision of the "open and obvious doctrine," this analysis eliminates the landowner's duty to address the hazard before visitors arrive, and removes the entire matter from the consideration of jurors.