SW Legal studies in Business

Jury Must Determine if Danger to Child Was Open and Obvious
Description

Appeals court held that it was for a jury to decide if the danger posed by a treadmill in a house being visited by a neighbor child was open and obvious, so the child needed no protection, or if the homeowner had a duty to protect the child from the danger.

Topic Real and Personal Property
Key Words

Premises Liability, Slip and Fall, Treadmill, Open and Obvious Danger

C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts

Mehak Qureshi, 10-years-old, was staying at the house of her close friend, Huda, for the night. Mehak turned on a treadmill that was in the TV room. No adults were present. When she was on the treadmill, she fell and her hand was caught between the moving belt and the base of the machine. The injury to her hand was severe. Mehak’s parents sued Huda’s parents for negligence for failing to protect their daughter from a hazard in their home. The trial court granted summary judgment for defendants. The plaintiffs appealed.

Decision

Reversed and remanded. The case should proceed. The treadmill might have posed an open and obvious risk of danger to the child that Mehak should have understood, as would be the case with fire. If not an open and obvious danger, then there is a question as to the duty owed to Mehak with respect to the treadmill. When a homeowner knows of, or should know of, things that pose a danger to visiting children, they have an obligation to take steps to protect the children. The test is whether a typical child, who is old enough to be visiting another home, would have the maturity to understand and appreciate the risk involved. Even if the court finds that a danger is open and obvious, so should have been understood by the child, there are still four factors in the duty analysis: 1) the reasonable likelihood of the plaintiff’s injury; 2) the reasonable foreseeability of the plaintiff’s injury; 3) the magnitude of the defendant’s burden of guarding against the injury; and 4) the consequences of placing that burden on the defendant.

Citation Qureshi v. Ahmed, ---N.E.2d--- (2009 WL 3161767, Ct. App., Ill., 2009)

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