Federal Appellate Court Finds Parents’ Presence Mitigates Defendant’s Duty in Recent Premises Liability Case Involving Young Child

Earlier this month, a federal appellate court issued a written opinion in a premises liability case presenting an interesting issue that frequently comes up in Virginia premises liability cases. Specifically, the case considered whether the presence of a young child’s parents can act to mitigate any duty that was owed to the child by the defendant landowner. Ultimately, the court concluded that it can, and it dismissed the plaintiff’s lawsuit against the defendant.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff in the case was a young child who was seriously injured while visiting the defendant coffee shop. According to the court’s recitation of the facts, the young child was accompanied by his parents. After the family ordered their food and drinks, they went upstairs to use the restroom before leaving. On the way out, the parents heard one of their two young sons screaming.

As it turns out, a metal pole that was used to create the line leading up to the cash register had fallen on the young boy’s hand. The boy was taken to the hospital, but doctors were unable to save the boy’s finger, which had to be amputated.

The boy, through his parents, filed a personal injury lawsuit against the coffee shop. Evidence presented at a defense motion for summary judgment established that the boy and his brother were playing on the metal poles and swinging from the ropes that connected the poles to form the line.

The plaintiff argued that the coffee shop was negligent in failing to secure the metal pole and failing to warn customers of the potential danger it posed. The coffee shop argued that any duty it would have owed to the child was foreclosed by the presence of the boy’s parents, who should have been responsible to keep an eye on their child while in the store.

The Court’s Decision

The court found in favor of the defendant coffee shop, explaining that the parents should have taken action to prevent their son from playing on the metal poles. The court characterized the poles as an “obvious” hazard, and it also noted that there was no evidence that the poles were unstable or defective in any way.

Have You Been Injured on Another Party’s Property?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured on another party’s property – whether it belongs to a private citizen, business, or government entity – you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a Virginia personal injury lawsuit. The dedicated personal injury lawyers at the law office of Charles B. Roberts, P.C. have the experience and dedication necessary to tackle even the toughest injury claims. With decades of combined experience handling a wide range of Virginia personal injury cases, the law office of Charles B. Roberts is a clear choice to handle your case. Call 703-491-7070 to schedule a free consultation today.

See More Blog Posts:

Court Precludes Defense Expert from Testifying in Recent Spa Injury Case, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, March 19, 2018.

Obviousness of the Hazard in Virginia Premises Liability Cases, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, March 5, 2018.