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Thursday, March 25, 2021

A Haven for Fall Down Artists

     Liability law generally holds that property owners must warn people about dangers and pitfalls that aren't readily noticeable. It does not, however, require property owners to line their stores and houses with pillows, guarding against every conceivable injury.

     The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals recently said otherwise. The plaintiff in the case was a man who walked with a cane and was accustomed to frequent tumbles. Yet he chose to descend a flight of stairs in a store parking lot, even though there were no guardrails. (The owner had removed the guardrails due to his concern that skateboarders who frequented them were going to break their necks, and was scheduled to have new rails installed in weeks.)

     The court ruled 3-2 that the owner was at fault for the man's injuries. Writing for the dissent, Justice Allen Loughry II wrote that the unfortunate decision would, "saddle property owners with the impossible burden of making their premises 'injury proof' for persons who either refuse or are inexplicably incapable of taking personal responsibility for their own safety." [The tort law defense of contributory negligence should have denied this plaintiff damages. This case is another example of the deep-pockets doctrine at work.]

Robby Soave, The Daily Caller, December 18, 2013 

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