In a lawsuit for negligence and premises liability, the California Court of Appeals concluded that the trial court properly granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants because they had no notice of the allegedly dangerous condition. In this opinion, the court analyzed the elements of a premises liability claim and assessed whether the plaintiff had met her burden of showing that the defendants had notice of the allegedly dangerous step in their home.
The plaintiff in this case was touring a home offered for sale when she fell on a stair and injured herself. The stair was one step down into a living room, approximately 5.6 inches in elevation change. At the time of her fall, the defendants, including the homeowners and their real estate agents, were not in the house. In her complaint, the plaintiff alleged that the defendants (the real estate agent, as well as her husband, a broker) knew or should have known that the dangerous condition (which was the step-down change in elevation of a single stair) created an unreasonable risk of harm. Her complaint alleged that the defendants failed to remedy the condition or failed to adequately warn of the condition. The defendants moved for summary judgment on the ground that the step was open and obvious, and the defendants did not have a duty to warn. They also contended that the step had not presented any danger, and they had no notice of any dangerous condition.
The trial court entered summary judgment for the defendants, persuaded that the homeowners did not have notice that the step inside their home constituted a dangerous condition requiring a warning. As a result, the court found they had no duty, and the other real estate defendants should be granted summary judgment.