Slip-and-fall cases are beguiling. While they often seem simple, Minnesota law frowns on them, especially in harsh weather conditions. Four recent rulings of the Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed summary judgment dismissals of these cases, both related and unrelated to the weather. Aronson v. McDowall, 2010 WL 3000709 (Minn. App. 2010) (unpublished); Knake v. Hund, 2010 WL 3119506 (Minn. App. 2010) (unpublished); Harrison v. Vold, 2010 WL 3306931 (Minn. App. 2010) (unpublished); Delean v. Target Corp., 2010 WL 2485724 (Minn. App. 2010) (unpublished). In each case, the claimant’s awareness of the risks before falling was a critical factor in the unfavorable disposition. The cases underscore how property owners and their advocates can successfully defend these cases by establishing that the condition causing the fall was obvious in general and, in particular, known by the claimant, especially if the claimant had passed by the site prior to the fall! Injured parties and their counsel should emphasize that the hazard was not readily apparent or visible and that the claimant was not personally aware of the condition before the fall. Claimant should also be fairly precise in their description of the hazardous condition before being deposed because post-deposition changes in testimony may not be allowed.
Marshall H. Tanick
Mansfield, Tanick & Cohen, PA, Minneapolis