South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Employer Has No Duty to Warn Patrons of Fact that Blind Employee Uses Cane
Description

Appeals court affirmed that a store had no duty to warn patrons of the fact that a blind employee on the premises used a guide cane. Hence, when a patron tripped over the cane, the store did not violate a duty of care. The danger posed by the cane was obvious.

Topic Real and Personal Property
Key Words

Premises Liability; Negligence; Duty to Warn; Obvious Dangers; Blind Employee

C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts

A blind employee of Acme, a grocery store, was walking with his white aluminum guide cane toward the restroom at the rear of the store when Campisi, a store patron, came around a corner and tripped over the cane and sustained injuries. She sued Acme for negligence and was awarded more than $100,000. The trial judge overturned the jury verdict, holding that Campisi failed to prove the existence of a duty to her. She appealed.

Decision

Affirmed. A landowner is under an affirmative duty to protect a business visitor not only against known dangers but also against those which might be discovered with reasonable care. An invitee must show that the proprietor deviated from its duty of reasonable care under the circumstances and, thus, the particular duty owed to a business invitee must be determined on a case-by-case basis. Neither the existence of a harmful condition in a store, nor the happening of an accident due to such a condition is sufficient evidence alone to show breach of a proprietor's duty of care. Even if the blind employee increased the risk of an accident, such risk did not overcome the patron's responsibility to avoid the known and obvious dangers present upon walking around in a store. The store had no duty to warn patrons of dangers posed on the premises by the presence of a blind employee.

Citation

Campisi v. Acme Markets, ---A.2d--- (2006 WL 3734754, Super. Ct., Penn., 2006)

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