Sunday, February 3, 2013

Schroyer v. McNeal case brief

Schroyer v. McNeal case summary
592 A.2d 1119 (Md. 1991)

PROCEDURAL HISTORY: Petitioner parking lot owners sought review of a decision by the Court of Special Appeals (Maryland), which upheld the judgment of the lower court in favor of respondent injured party in her action alleging that her injuries in a slip-and-fall on an icy parking lot were caused by the owners' negligence.

FACTS: The injured party checked into a hotel and, despite four inches of ice and snow, requested to receive a room close to a door near an area of the parking lot that had not been shoveled. The injured party parked her car near that door and fell on the ice. In reviewing the lower court's order upholding a $ 50,000 jury verdict against the owners, the court found that the injured party was barred from recovery by the doctrine of assumption of the risk. The court found that, while the doctrines of contributory negligence and assumption of the risk were similar, they had critical differences that were evident in the instant case. The court noted that, while it may have been proper for the trial court to submit, as it did, the question of contributory negligence to the jury, the trial court erred in not determining as a matter of law that the injured party had assumed the risk. The court ruled that such was the case since it was clear on the record that the injured party, fully aware of the ice and snow, voluntarily chose to walk across the parking lot, thus indicating her willingness to relieve the owners of responsibility for her safety.

Assumption of the risk and contributory negligence are closely related and often overlapping defenses. They may arise from the same facts and, in a given case, a decision as to one may necessarily include the other.

CONCLUSION: The court reversed the judgment of the court of special appeals and remanded with directions to reverse the judgment of the circuit court.

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