Gilmore v. Walgreen Co., A07-2387 (Minn. Ct. App., January 20, 2009)
Plaintiff tripped over an empty pallet at a Walgreen, was injured, and brought suit against Walgreen. The District Court (Ramsey Cty., Higgs, J.) granted summary judgment for Walgreen finding that the impediment was “known and obvious” and thus did not trigger a duty of care.
The Minnesota Court of Appeals noted that an invitee “may be distracted when he encounters the known and obvious condition.” The Court found support in the Restatement of Torts, which in the commentary to Section 343A, describes an almost identical scenario. While conceding that the question of whether a defendant should anticipate the risk of injury from an known and obvious risk is “as fine one,” the Court of Appeals reversed the grant of summary judgment in Walgreen’s favor.
The import of this ruling will make it considerably more difficult for defendants in such cases to get out on summary judgment (and thus may increase the settlement value of this kind of case).