Aldrich Law Firm, Ltd.
Aldrich Law Firm, Ltd.

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When judges make mistakes

Taking someone to court over an injury you sustained on his or her Las Vegas property could result in compensation for the costs of your medical care, pain and suffering, and other damages. However, there is no guarantee that the judge will see things your way. At the Aldrich Law Firm, Ltd., we have helped many people successfully appeal premises liability decisions after an incorrect judgment.

Sometimes, the problem is not with the law, but with how a judge interprets it. The UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law provides an illustration of this through a summary of Foster v. Costco Wholesale Corp.

In the original case, the judge ruled in favor of the defendant, stating that the company had fulfilled its duty of care, even though a customer tripped over a pallet that was left in the center of an aisle. The ruling was based on the fact that the obstruction in the aisle should have been obvious. This refers to the “open and obvious rule” that asserts it was the customer’s responsibility to identify the danger and avoid it, even though there were no warnings present about the possibility of items on the floor presenting a tripping hazard.

The customer won the appeal because the Court found that the obviousness of a hazard was not the only factor that should have been considered. While it may have been part of the equation in whether the company exercised reasonable care in keeping people safe, the district judge should have also determined whether the company should have anticipated that the customer would be distracted by the surroundings and anticipate the possibility that the hazard would not be seen as a result.

An appellate court does not issue a new judgment. Instead, the case was returned to the district court with the instructions to reassess the circumstances based on the other elements of the law not previously considered. More information about premises liability and the appeals process is available on our web page.

John P. Aldrich
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