In Goumas v. Mayse, a 21-year-old man was visiting the home of his fiancée’s parents for an extended period of time. During his visit, the man allegedly tripped and fell over a rock while assisting the property owners with some yard work. As a result of his purported slip and fall, the man sustained two broken bones in his right arm. About one year after he was injured, the man filed a premises liability case against the property owners. In his complaint, the man alleged the owners were aware of an unreasonably dangerous condition and failed to correct it or warn him of the hazard. In response, the property owners filed a motion for summary judgment, alleging they owed the man no legal duty.
According to evidence offered to the trial court, the man was aware of the location of the rock because he performed similar yard work on numerous previous extended visits to the property. In addition, the man offered no evidence to support his claim that the property owners knew or should have known the rock posed a danger or that it existed in any way. The trial court stated there was no proof the man’s injury was foreseeable and granted the property owners’ motion for summary judgment. The man then appealed his case to the Knoxville court.
In Tennessee, a property owner has a legal duty to exercise reasonable care and remove hazards or warn visitors and invitees about dangerous conditions the owner is or should be aware of. A property owner is also required to exercise reasonable diligence regarding the existence of a potentially hazardous condition. This duty does not extend to a dangerous condition the owner was unaware of or could not reasonably have discovered.
A motion for summary judgment is a request that a court rule that no genuine issue of material fact exists and any undisputed facts require judgment to be entered in favor of the requesting party. After reviewing the evidence offered by both parties, the appeals court held that the trial court properly granted the property owners’ motion for summary judgment because no material fact was in dispute. According to the Court of Appeals, no evidence was offered that would suggest a dangerous condition was present on the property. Additionally, the man’s own testimony stated he was aware of the existence of the rock on which he tripped. Since the property owners owed no duty to the injured man, the Knoxville Court affirmed the decision of the trial court.
If you suffered an injury because a property owner failed to exercise reasonable care, you may be entitled to compensation for your harm. Since the facts of each accident vary, you should discuss your case with a skilled Knoxville premises liability attorney. Call the Hartsoe Law Firm, P.C. at (865) 524-5657 or contact us through our website today if you were injured due to a property owner’s negligence.
Goumas v. Mayse, Tenn: Court of Appeals 2014
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