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Premises Liability - Open and Obvious Danger

Daniels v. Wiley, et al., [Ms. 1190208, June 26, 2020] __ So. 3d __ (Ala. 2020). The Court (Bolin, J.; Parker, C.J., and Shaw, Wise, Bryan, Sellers, Mendheim, Stewart, and Mitchell, JJ., concur) affirms the Madison Circuit Court’s summary judgment dismissing claims by Daniels, an apartment tenant against her landlord, alleging that mud had accumulated on the sidewalk as a result of a rain earlier in the day, causing her to slip and fall when she stepped off the sidewalk curb. Ms. *2. Daniels acknowledged that the danger was open and obvious but argued that a jury question was presented because the landlord had prior knowledge that mud accumulated on the sidewalk during rain events creating a hazard.

The Court affirms, explaining that “the law relied upon by Daniels holding that a landlord has a duty to eliminate open and obvious dangers or to warn an invitee of such dangers if the invitor ‘should anticipate the harm’ – is not the law in Alabama.” Ms. *27, citing Lamson &Sessions Bolt Co. v. McCarty, 234 Ala. 60,173 So. 388 (1937).

The Court declines to reach the merits of Daniels’s alternative argument that the defendant “breached a special duty, as distinguished from the general duty we have already discussed. Daniels appears to maintain that, because the [Safety & Maintenance] Manual used at the apartment complex required daily inspections of the property to identify and remove debris, Hawthorne-Midway had ‘a self-imposed duty to inspect the property for daily debris’ and that it breached that duty by failing to identify and remove the danger created by the mud.” Ms. *29. Daniels failed to cite any authority to support the existence of special duty. Ibid.

Daniels waived any argument that the trial court erred in dismissing her wantonness claim because she failed to present evidence showing that Hawthorne-Midway consciously disregarded her safety and did not address the dismissal of her wantonness claim in her appellate brief. Ms. *31.

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