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Visitor who wears wet shoes on vinyl floor has created "open and obvious" danger and cannot sue

James Carpenter slipped and fell in the doorway of Coatis Anderson's home, falling down a flight of stairs and permanently injuring his shoulder.  A majority of the Court of Appeals concluded that Anderson owed no duty to Carpenter and dismissed Carpenter's negligence claim, based on the fact that Carpenter entered the home with shoes wet from newfallen snow.  The majority held that stepping on the vinyl flooring at the top of the landing with wet shoes was an "open and obvious danger" which should have been apparent to Carpenter on casual inspection. 

Judge Shapiro filed a cogent dissent, pointing out that Carpenter was on his way to  attend a highly commercialized poker game held regularly in Defendant's basement and involving as many as 20 players.  There was even a doorman who controlled entry and sold refreshments to the participants.  On this testimony, Shapiro noted that the status of guests to the home was a question of fact for the jury (commercial guests are owed a greater duty than is owed to social guests). 

Further, since there was conflicting testimony about the presence of a mat to soak up moisture at the top of the stairs, and since there was no means for Carpenter to avoid the wet linoleum, Shapiro would have held that application of the open and obvious hazard doctrine was a question for jurors to resolve.

Thompson O’Neil, P.C.
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