Pigs fly! Ohio Court of Appeals Reverses Summary Judgment Decision in Slip-and-Fall Case.

December 24, 2016
Christmas came early this year for one Mahoning County, Ohio slip-and-fall Plaintiff. Ohio’s Seventh District Court of Appeals just decided her case, McCammon v. Youngstown Sports Grille, and reversed the Trial Court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the restaurant she sued.
The basic facts were:
{¶2} On the afternoon of St. Patrick’s Day, McCammon visited the Sports
Grille, which was festively decorated for the holiday. The adornments included
shredded green Easter basket grass placed on the tables, floor and light fixtures by
the restaurant. McCammon and her daughter Kathy found a table where they
listened to the live band and McCammon enjoyed a diet soda while the two of them
awaited the arrival of McCammon’s other daughter, Jeri. When Jeri joined them, the
family ordered dinner. McCammon later recalled seeing the Easter grass on the
tables and lights upon entering the restaurant and being aware of some of it falling on
the floors before ordering her food. After finishing her meal, she went to the restroom
then walked over to the band to request a song. As she was returning to her table,
she fell. She stated at deposition: “The grass wrapped around my shoes and tripped
me, tripped my toes. Sort of like maybe bound them together or the toes of the
shoes got hooked into the grass.” She described seeing “a loose jumble of this
green Easter grass” about the size of “a small football” tangled around her closedtoed,
diabetic shoes after the fall. McCammon claimed the fall caused her
permanent injury. 
The Defendants (the restaurant and its owner) moved for summary judgment, asserting that the “Easter grass” was an “open-and-obvious” hazard, as did the Defendants in Bovetsky v. Marc Glassman, Inc.Darah v. Coaching by Kurt, L.L.C. and Lattimore v. K & A Market, Inc.  In their motion for summary judgment, they cited McCammon’s deposition testimony, in
which she acknowledged she was aware of the widespread presence of the Easter
grass as she was being ushered to her table, and specifically aware of its presence
on the floor while she was at her table. She also testified that at the time she fell, she
was not carrying her purse or anything else, she was watching where she was
walking, was not distracted in any way, was not bumped by anyone, and there were
no obstructions in her path, any wetness on the floor, or any lighting issues. The Judge agreed with their argument and granted summary judgment. But the Plaintiff’s attorney then pulled off quite a feat – he appealed to the Seventh District Court of Appeals and won. A rare appellate win, indeed.

In reversing the summary judgment decision, the Seventh District noted that “where reasonable minds
could differ with respect to whether a danger is open and obvious, the
obviousness of the risk is an issue for the jury to determine.” Here, there was enough of a factual dispute that the case needed to go to a jury.
Any attorney opposing a motion for summary judgment in a slip-and-fall case in Ohio would be smart to cite to McCammon v. Youngstown Sports Grille.
Written by Alex J. Durst, a Cincinnati, Ohio-based civil litigation attorney, employment attorney, appellate attorney and divorce attorney with Croskery Law Offices. Alex is licensed to practice in Ohio state courts and the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, and also practices in other state and federal courts by permission on a case-by-case basis (most recently, Kentucky, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, California, Nevada, Massachusetts and Florida). Alex can be contacted by phone at (513) 338-1947 or by email at adurst@croskerylaw.com.

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