A negligence case has four components: duty, breach of duty, causation, and damages. Sometimes, a particular situation – such as a slip and fall injury, an act of medical malpractice, or a defective product – turns a simple negligence case into a more complex inquiry.
Sometimes, however, the opposite is true. A recent case from the Kentucky Court of Appeals illustrates this point.
Facts of the Case
In Campbell v. Pro Video Audio Productions, Inc., the plaintiff was working as a professional stagehand at a concert in Louisville in 2012 when his foot became entangled in a tarp placed on the stage. He fell approximately seven feet, hurting his arm, leg, face, and hand. He sued the defendant, who was in the business of providing stage construction and sound system services, alleging that it had created an unreasonably dangerous condition by failing to place handrails around the stage.
Since the plaintiff was on the job at the time of the accident, his employer’s workers’ compensation carrier (which had paid benefits to him) intervened in the case, asserting a subrogation interest. The trial court granted summary judgment to the defendant, holding that the principles of premises liability did not apply because the defendant did not own or occupy the premises on which the plaintiff fell. The court further found that the defendant did not owe the plaintiff a duty because his injury was not foreseeable.
The Kentucky Court of Appeals’ Opinion
Both the plaintiff and the insurance company that had filed the subrogation claim appealed the trial court’s decision. The appellate court first determined that the issue presented was a mixed question of law and fact, thus enabling the court to examine the record before it under a de novo standard. The court went on to find that the trial court had applied the appropriate case law with regard to the inapplicability of premises liability law, insofar as the defendant was neither an owner nor a possessor of the property where the accident occurred. Thus, the case was to be governed by the traditional common law of negligence.
With regard to the trial court’s determination that the defendant did not owe a duty to the plaintiff, however, the court found that there was a reversible error. Instead, the court noted that, under Kentucky law, there is a “universal duty owed by all to all,” and this requires the exercise of ordinary care to prevent foreseeable harm. Since the nature of the risk of harm to the plaintiff was foreseeable, the defendant owed a duty to all those in proximity to the stage, including the plaintiff.
To Talk to a Lawyer About a Slip and Fall Case
If you or a loved one has been hurt on the premises of a business, you need reliable legal advice concerning the possibility of monetary recovery from the responsible party. To schedule an appointment with an experienced personal injury and wrongful death attorney, call English, Lucas, Priest & Owsley at 270-781-6500 and ask for a free consultation. Our offices are located in Bowling Green, Kentucky. We represent injured people throughout Tennessee and Kentucky.
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