Woman who tripped on dropped table cloth in dark dance club cannot pursue claim
Ekaterina Novokshonova went to a dance club, the Royal Oak Dining LLC called "Sangria," with a friend. The club was dark, but she testified that periodically through the night she noticed debris on the floor. It concerned her because she and many of the women present were wearing high heels. Later in the night, as she approached the bar, she stepped into what turned out to be a large, dark red table cloth, tripped, and struck her head on the club bar. She said that while she was generally observing the floor as she walked, she did not see the table cloth until the lights were turned on after she fell.
It would seem that a dance club, operating in a dark environmnent, would owe a duty to patrons to keep the floor free of trip hazards like a table cloth. Unfortunately, Republican activist Justices have expanded the exceptions to premises liability and their own right to decide fact questions to such an extent that people with leigitimate grievances, like this young woman, are often summarily thrown out of court.
The Republican majority of the Supreme Court has expanded the "open and obvious" danger warning exception to landowner liability beyond its original meaning and now apply it with vengeance. Originally, the doctrine obviated a possessor's duty to warn of a hazard that constituted its own warning; it did not eliminate the possessor's duty to make the premises reasonably safe for commercial invitees.
The Republican Justices, and other activists like Kirsten Kelly and Christopher Murray, use the doctrine to decide factual issues and to justify summarily adjudicating all manner of premises liability claims. In the instant case, the latter judges decided that reasonable people could not disagree with their holding that the dark red cloth was visible to an ordinary observer "on casual inspection" in the dark club, and that the club owed no duty to police litter and debris on the floor.