Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Slip and Fall at Winery Results in Defense Verdict

Dunn v. Heineman’s Winery, 2015-Ohio-4054

Slip and Fall

In this case, the plaintiff was visiting a gift shop and then proceeded to go outside to an outdoor wine garden. The lawn area had recently been seeded and was covered with straw. It had rained earlier that day and the ground was wet. Three pieces of plywood had been placed on the ground so that customers could walk from the gift shop to the wine garden without getting mud on their shoes. The plaintiff slipped on the wet plywood and was injured.

The Open and Obvious Defense

This case, which was a slip and fall at a winery at Put N Bay, was found in favor of the defendant based on the defense of open and obvious danger. This defense is the most common defense used by owners of property involved in slip and fall claims. The trial court found the piece of plywood an open and obvious danger as a matter of law, leaving the winery with no duty to protect the plaintiff.  “The open-and-obvious doctrine eliminates a premises occupier’s duty to warn a business invitee of static dangers on the premises if the dangers are known to the invitee or are so obvious and apparent to the invitee that he or she may reasonable be expected to discover them and protect himself or herself against them.” Simmons v. Am. Pacific Ent., L.L.C., 164 Ohio App.3d 763, 2005-Ohio-6957, 843 N.E.2d 1271, ¶ 21 (10th Dist.), citing Sidle v. Humphrey, 13 Ohio St.2d 45, 233 N.E.2d 589 (1968). The case was affirmed 3 to 0 in the Court of Appeals of Ohio, Sixth Appellate District, Ottawa County.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

The Ohio Supreme Court Accepts Review of Case Interpreting Ohio's "Good Samaritan" Law

The Ohio Supreme Court Accepts Review of Case Interpreting Ohio's "Good Samaritan" Law

On July 8, 2015, the Ohio Supreme Court accepted the case of Carter v. Reese, 2014-Ohio-5395 for review, which means that the Ohio Supreme Court will decide this appeal from the decision of the Twelfth District Court of Appeals.

Facts of the Case

It is a case involving a man who lost his leg when he was pinned against a loading dock. The man was stuck between the truck and the loading dock, but was uninjured. He was trying to get unstuck when he heard someone nearby. He called out to the man and the man asked what he could do to help him. The pinned man asked him to move the truck forward about a foot, but to make sure that he did not reverse the truck. The man who was attempting to render assistance did not know how to drive the type of truck that the man was pinned behind, but he decided to render assistance anyway and let the truck roll backwards onto the pinned man breaking his leg in three separate places. By the time someone came to render assistance who knew how to drive the truck, the injured man had lost so much blood that he had to be airlifted to the hospital and ended up having to have his leg amputated.

Decisions of the Lower Courts

The Trial Court and the Court of Appeals both affirmed Motions for Summary Judgment based on the "Good Samaritan" law in regard to rendering emergency care, holding that the Good Samaritan law in Ohio protects anyone who renders emergency care from liability for their conduct unless their conduct is willful and wanton. The issue that the Ohio Supreme Court will decide is whether Ohio’s Good Samaritan civil immunity statute only applies when emergency medical care is rendered or when anyone attempts to render emergency care.

What the Good Samaritan Statute Says

The Good Samaritan statute in R.C. 23025.23 states “(no) person shall be liable in civil damages for administering emergency care or treatment at the scene of an emergency outside of a hospital, doctor’s office, or other place having proper medical equipment, for acts performed at the scene of such emergency, unless such acts constitute willful and wanton misconduct.”

What is the Equitable Result

What do you think? Should the Ohio Good Samaritan law protect non-medically trained individuals from liability? Even if the Ohio Supreme Court determines that the law as written applies to any person, health care professional or otherwise, who administers ‘emergency care,’ medical or otherwise, at the scene of an emergency and who meets the remaining requirements of the statute, e.g. their acts do constitute willful or wanton conduct, this is an inequitable result for this injured trucker and the State of Ohio’s legislature should change the law to reflect this inequitable result. It was clearly negligent for the individual attempting to render assistance to try to drive the truck when he did not know how to operate it and he should be held accountable for his negligence.