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Summary Judgment Granted in Wrongful Death Case


Los Angeles Superior Court granted summary judgment in an action involving a deadly fall from the roof of defendant’s building. OLG secured summary judgment for the building owner on a defense of open and obvious condition – where Plaintiffs could not show a “practical necessity” of decedent encountering the alleged danger. Plaintiffs are appealing.

Plaintiffs filed suit against Defendant property owner alleging: (1) premises liability; (2) negligence, including negligent supervision; and (3) continuation of decedent’s causes of action (survival action). Initially, Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment was denied. Defendant petitioned for a writ of mandate, and the appellate court issued an order and alternative writ that the trial court complied with based on a finding that there had not been a consideration of the threshold argument as to whether Defendant owed a legal duty to protect decedent from the obvious risk of falling from a roof. After additional briefing and argument, the Los Angeles Superior Court granted OLG’s motion for summary judgment.

Plaintiffs argued that while Defendant may not have owed a duty to warn decedent of an obvious danger, they owed a duty to remedy the danger posed by the roof. The Court noted that standing on top of a sloped roof with no guardrail is essentially dangerous and the parties did not dispute that the subject roof presented an open and obvious danger. However, the Court ruled that there was no practical necessity for decedent, or any individual, to encounter this open and obvious danger; consequently, decedent’s fatal fall from the roof was not foreseeable as a matter of law. The Court found that Defendant did not owe decedent a duty to warn of, or remedy, the open and obvious danger posed by the roof and that Plaintiffs failed to carry their burden with respect to their causes of action.