Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Richardson v. The Commodore, Inc. case brief

Richardson v. The Commodore, Inc. case summary
599 N.W.2d 693 (Iowa 1999)

PROCEDURAL HISTORY: Plaintiff bar patron appealed a judgment of the Iowa Court of Appeals, which affirmed the district court's grant of defendant landowner's motion for summary judgment in a premises liability case.

FACTS: Plaintiff bar patron was injured at a bar owned and operated by defendants when a portion of the building's original plaster ceiling fell on him. Plaintiff claimed that he was a business invitee and that defendants' negligence in failing to maintain the premises in a reasonably safe condition caused the incident. Plaintiff's premises liability action was dismissed on defendants' motion for summary judgment, which the appellate court affirmed. On appeal, the court found sufficient evidence to create a jury question as to whether reasonable care warranted an inspection of the plaster ceiling and whether such an inspection would have alerted defendants to its dangerous condition. Therefore, the court vacated the intermediate court's decision, and remanded for further proceedings.

A possessor of land is subject to liability for physical harm caused to his invitees by a condition on the land if, but only if, he (a) knows or by the exercise of reasonable care would discover the condition, and should realize that it involves an unreasonable risk of harm to such invitees, and (b) should expect that they will not discover or realize the danger, or will fail to protect themselves against it, and (c) fails to exercise reasonable care to protect them against the danger.

CONCLUSION: The court reversed and remanded the appellate court's affirmance of defendant's summary judgment award in plaintiff's premises liability action. The court held there was sufficient evidence to create a jury question as to whether reasonable care warranted an inspection of defendant's plaster ceiling.

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