Miami Partner, David Herrero, secured a Final Summary Judgment in Monroe County in a premises liability case against a timeshare/condominium resort. Plaintiff tripped and fell when she stepped into a hole in a landscaped area of the resort located below the edge of the boardwalk/deck, which was an area adjacent to large rocks and tree roots. Plaintiff sustained various ligament and tendon tears to her ankle. The claim included $185,000 in past medical expenses and a wage loss claim of over $250,000. Plaintiff specifically alleged the Defendants failed to maintain their landscaped surface floor by allowing this uneven/unlevel hole to exist in the landscaped surface floor at issue, and/or failed to warn Plaintiff of the dangers associated with uneven/unlevel landscaped surface flooring below the designated boardwalk/deck walkway.
The Defendants argued they had no obligation to maintain the resort’s landscaped surface area in a reasonably safe manner because landscaping areas are open and obvious hazards which are not specifically designed or designated for walking. The Defendants also argued they did not owe a duty to maintain the landscaped area where the Plaintiff fell when an alternate designated pedestrian walkway existed with an available staircase leading down from the boardwalk/deck onto the landscaped surface area, and did not owe a duty to warn because the purported “dangerous” condition was both open and obvious and was not inherently dangerous, as a matter of law. Plaintiff’s experts opined the landscaped area violated ASTM standards which created a foreseeable hazard to the Plaintiff as she stepped down from the boardwalk/deck onto the landscaped surface floor which should be free of any uneven-unlevel changes hazards as a foreseeable pedestrian walkway. The trial court agreed with the Defendants and granted final summary judgment in their favor.
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