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Pigs fly! Ohio Court of Appeals Reverses Summary Judgment Decision in Slip-and-Fall Case.

slip-and-fall

Christmas came early this year for one Mahoning County, Ohio slip-and-fall Plaintiff. Ohio's Seventh District Court of Appeals just decided her case, McCammon v. Youngstown Sports Grille, and reversed the Trial Court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the restaurant she sued.

The basic facts were:

{¶2} On the afternoon of St. Patrick's Day, McCammon visited the Sports Grille, which was festively decorated for the holiday. The adornments included shredded green Easter basket grass placed on the tables, floor and light fixtures by the restaurant. McCammon and her daughter Kathy found a table where they listened to the live band and McCammon enjoyed a diet soda while the two of them awaited the arrival of McCammon's other daughter, Jeri. When Jeri joined them, the family ordered dinner. McCammon later recalled seeing the Easter grass on the tables and lights upon entering the restaurant and being aware of some of it falling on the floors before ordering her food. After finishing her meal, she went to the restroom then walked over to the band to request a song. As she was returning to her table, she fell. She stated at deposition: "The grass wrapped around my shoes and tripped me, tripped my toes. Sort of like maybe bound them together or the toes of the shoes got hooked into the grass." She described seeing "a loose jumble of this green Easter grass" about the size of "a small football" tangled around her closedtoed, diabetic shoes after the fall. McCammon claimed the fall caused her permanent injury. 

The Defendants (the restaurant and its owner) moved for summary judgment, asserting that the "Easter grass" was an "open-and-obvious" hazard, as did the Defendants in Bovetsky v. Marc Glassman, Inc.Darah v. Coaching by Kurt, L.L.C. and Lattimore v. K & A Market, Inc.  

In their motion for summary judgment, they cited McCammon's deposition testimony, in which she acknowledged she was aware of the widespread presence of the Easter grass as she was being ushered to her table, and specifically aware of its presence on the floor while she was at her table. She also testified that at the time she fell, she was not carrying her purse or anything else, she was watching where she was walking, was not distracted in any way, was not bumped by anyone, and there were no obstructions in her path, any wetness on the floor, or any lighting issues. The Judge agreed with their argument and granted summary judgment. But the Plaintiff's attorney then pulled off quite a feat - he appealed to the Seventh District Court of Appeals and won. A rare appellate win, indeed.

In reversing the summary judgment decision, the Seventh District noted that "where reasonable minds could differ with respect to whether a danger is open and obvious, the obviousness of the risk is an issue for the jury to determine." Here, there was enough of a factual dispute that the case needed to go to a jury.

Any attorney opposing a motion for summary judgment in a slip-and-fall case in Ohio would be smart to cite to McCammon v. Youngstown Sports Grille.

 

Alex Durst is a Cincinnati personal injury attorney with The Durst Law FirmLicensed in Ohio, Alex has also practiced in Missouri, Florida, Indiana, California, Nevada, Massachusetts, and Kentucky. Alex can be reached at (513) 621-2500 or alex@durstlawfirm.com.

 

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