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Florida Fifth DCA reverses trial court's entry of summary judgment for premise liability defendants based on obvious danger doctrine

On March 3, 2017, in Trainor v. PNC Bank, No. 5D15-4536, the Florida Fifth DCA reversed the trial court’s entry of summary judgment for the defendants in a premise liability case in which the plaintiff had alleged both a breach of a duty to warn and failure to maintain the property in a reasonably safe condition. The accident at issue occurred in a bank parking lot when the plaintiff stepped in a pothole. The defendants successfully moved for summary judgment based on the obvious danger doctrine, which recognizes that owners and occupiers should be legally permitted to assume that the invitee will perceive that which would be obvious to them upon the ordinary use of their own senses. See Krol v. City of Orlando, 778 So. 2d 490, 493 (Fla. 5th DCA 2001). On appeal, the Fifth DCA cited Dampier v. Morgan Tire & Auto, LLC, 82 So. 3d 204, 206 (Fla. 5th DCA 2012) for the principle that while the open and obvious nature of a hazard may discharge a landowner's or possessor's duty to warn, it does not discharge the landowner’s or possessor's duty to maintain the property in a reasonably safe condition. The Court concluded that a plaintiff's knowledge of a dangerous condition does not negate a defendant's potential liability for negligently permitting the dangerous condition to exist; it simply raises the issue of comparative negligence and precludes summary judgment for the plaintiff.

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