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Lights Out! Court of Appeals Upholds Dismissal of Premises Liability Claim Following Patron’s Fall on Unlit Steps

Premises Liability / August 28, 2020

A premises possessor’s obligation to an invitee is a longstanding immutable principle: an obligation not only to warn of known dangers but to undertake an inspection and either warn of the discovered hazards and/or make repairs. The Court’s decision in Graybill, though unpublished, suggests the temporal element must be considered. Here, the injury was nearly simultaneous with the lights going out. This coupled with the Plaintiff’s inability to present admissible evidence which created a genuine issue of material fact that the Tavern knew or should have discovered that the lights were going to turn off without warning was critical to finding in the Tavern owner’s favor. While the Court’s ruling suggests temporal elements should be considered, this should not be seen as a signal to premises possessors they do not have to do their due diligence to make the premises safe for its invitees by inspecting and warning or repairing defects that could cause injury.

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