In a recent case, a Georgia appeals court considered whether a plaintiff was entitled to recover damages after she tripped on a corn hole game at a car dealership. The plaintiff had gone to the car dealership to look at pickup trucks with her boyfriend. While visiting the dealership, the two walked across the sales floor inside the showroom with a salesperson. There were vehicles on display and a “corn hole” game near the offices for customers to play while they were in the process of purchasing a vehicle. The game had two wooden ramps across from each other, and customers would take turns tossing bean bags into a hole in each ramp.
The couple spoke to a salesperson in an office, walked across the sales floor and went outside, and then came back inside, walking across the sales floor again and into an office. As the woman was exiting the office, she turned back to answer a question, then turned around again to walk out, and tripped on the corn hole game. She fell and suffered a torn meniscus in her knee. The woman sued the car dealership for negligently maintaining the corn hole game on the sales floor and failing to warn her of its presence.
A landowner or occupier has a duty of care to keep premises safe for entrants classified as invitees, or those invited onto a piece of property for a mutual economic benefit. Generally, an invitee must show that the defendant had actual or constructive knowledge of the hazard, the plaintiff lacked knowledge of the hazard despite having exercised ordinary care, and the hazard was within the control of the defendant. That is, normally the landowner or occupier has to have superior knowledge of the hazard and its danger.
A static condition is a condition that does not change, and it is only dangerous if someone walks into it without seeing it. If a person is able to see the condition, the owner can reasonably assume the person will see it and recognize its risk.
The Court’s Decision
A Georgia appeals court held that the corn hole was an open and obvious, static condition. The court explained that even though the object was move-able, it was still static because it had not moved since the plaintiff arrived at the dealership. Further, it was always readily visible from any angle and was in plain view, with nothing obstructing the woman’s view of the game board. As a result, the court found the game was an open and obvious hazard, and dismissed the woman’s case.
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Anyone Can be the Victim of Negligent Conduct — Jury Awards Doctor $7 Million after Slip-and-Fall Accident in Operating Room, Georgia Injury Attorney Blog, March 2, 2017.
Plaintiff Receives $21 Million After Wife Suffers Catastrophic Brain Damage During Back Procedure, Georgia Injury Attorney Blog, February 10, 2017.