All businesses that welcome the public have a legal responsibility to discover any condition on site that may be dangerous, and to either promptly address that hazard or warn invitees of it.
However, as noted in the 1952 Florida Supreme Court case of Earley v. Morrison Cafeteria Co. of Orlando, the business may assume that invitees will perceive conditions that are obvious upon the ordinary use of his or her own senses. Restated another way, there is no duty by the business to warn patrons of open and obvious conditions. So a business needs to warn about concealed dangers that are known or should be known to the owner and are unknown to the patron and can’t be discovered through the exercise of due care. The business also needs to use ordinary care in maintaining its property in reasonably safe condition.
These standards were all reviewed in a recent case before Florida’s 1st District Court of Appeal, which considered the open and obvious doctrine defense in a trip-and-fall injury lawsuit against a Bay County grocery store. Before the court was a request to consider whether summary judgment in favor of defendant was appropriate when the injured man observed the dangerous condition, but failed to step around the obstacle. Continue reading