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"Caution Watch Your Step" Sign Constitutes Adequate Warning of a Step

November 6, 2009

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In Broodie v. Gibco Enters, Ltd., the plaintiff fell and injured herself when she tripped on a step separating the bar area from the restaurant area at defendant's restaurant. Plaintiff claimed that while the step itself was safe, insufficient lighting in the area created a condition which was both inherently dangerous and a hidden trap, resulting in her fall and subsequent injury. Bronx Supreme Court disagreed, and defendants were awarded Summary Judgment. Plaintiff appealed.

In affirming the decision of Supreme Court, Bronx County, the Appellate Division, First Department found that while landowners owe a reasonable duty of care to invitees, summary judgment may still be appropriate when the complained-of condition is both "open and obvious." The respondents offered evidence that a recessed lighting fixture in the ceiling provided adequate light to the step area. Moreover, there were one or more black and yellow signs warning "CAUTION WATCH YOUR STEP" posted in the vicinity. The plaintiff's deposition testimony that she still did not see the step before she fell was insufficient to raise a triable issue of fact.

Thanks to Brian Gibbons for his contribution to this post.

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