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Minor v. Young, Case No. 5D12-4219 (5th DCA)

In Minor, the plaintiff was injured when she fell through an unfinished attic floor on premises owned by her aunt. The plaintiff had gone to the attic to retrieve an item for the plaintiff’s grandmother. After taking a few steps in the direction indicated by the defendant, the plaintiff fell through the attic floor and landed on the garage floor below, injuring her ankle. The plaintiff sued the defendant for negligently failing to maintain her premises in a reasonably safe condition and for failing to warn the plaintiff of the dangerous condition. The trial court entered summary judgment in favor of the defendant. On appeal, the 5th DCA reversed, finding that disputed issues of fact remain unresolved as to whether the plaintiff knew of the danger, whether the danger was open and obvious, and whether the plaintiff knew, or should have known, of the danger and breached the duty to maintain her premises in a reasonably safe condition and warn her invited guest of the danger before she entered the attic. In doing so, the 5th DCA cited to series of appellate opinions stating, among other things, that summary judgments should be cautiously granted in negligence and malpractice suits, that an invitee’s knowledge of a danger is normally not a complete bar to recover but rather only triggers the application of comparative negligence principles, and that the obvious danger doctrine does not apply when negligence is predicated on breach of the duty to maintain the premises in a reasonably safe condition.

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