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.

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