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Carroll v. Carnival Corp.

United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

April 15, 2020, Decided

No. 17-13602

Opinion

 [*1262]  JORDAN, Circuit Judge:

Elaine Carroll tripped over the leg of a lounge chair while she was walking through a narrow pathway on a Carnival cruise ship. She sued Carnival, alleging that it negligently failed to maintain a safe walkway and failed to warn her of that dangerous condition. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Carnival on both claims, concluding that the condition was open and obvious and that Carnival lacked actual or constructive notice of the hazard.

After review of the record and the parties' briefs, and with the benefit of oral argument, we reverse. In concluding [**2]  that the condition was open and obvious and that Carnival lacked notice, the district court failed to draw all factual inferences in favor of Mrs. Carroll. In addition, even if the allegedly dangerous condition were open and obvious, that would only defeat the failure to warn claim, and would not bar the claim for negligently failing to maintain a safe walkway.

In March of 2015, Mrs. Carroll and her husband Michael were passengers on board the Carnival Pride. On the first full day of the cruise, Mrs. and Mr. Carroll  [*1263]  were walking to one of the restaurants, David's Steakhouse, on Deck 11 of the ship. The outer glass wall of David's Steakhouse is curved in the shape of a semi-circle. Lounge chairs are set up in a semi-circular shape along the curved glass wall of the restaurant.

To get to the restaurant, the Carrolls had to walk on a curved walkway between the foot-end of the row of lounge chairs (on their right side) and the ship's railing (on their left side). When they initially approached the walkway, there were approximately two to three feet between the chairs and the railing, so they were able to walk side-by-side. At some point after passing the first chair, however, the distance [**3]  between the chairs and the railway narrowed, so Mrs. Carroll's husband walked in front of her and she followed behind him. While Mrs. Carroll was walking behind her husband, her right foot clipped the leg of one of the lounge chairs, causing her to fall and suffer injuries.

Mrs. Carroll sued Carnival for negligence. She asserted, among other things, that Carnival negligently maintained a dangerous condition—"lounge chairs that narrowed and protruded onto a pedestrian walkway"—and negligently failed to warn passengers of the danger associated with that condition.

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955 F.3d 1260 *; 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 11860 **; 28 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. C 1048

ELAINE CARROLL, Plaintiff-Appellant, versus CARNIVAL CORPORATION d/b/a CARNIVAL CRUISE LINES, Defendant-Appellee.

Prior History:  [**1] Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida. D.C. Docket No. 1:16-cv-20829-JEM.

Carroll v. Carnival Corp., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 109673 (S.D. Fla., July 12, 2017)

Disposition: REVERSED AND REMANDED.

CORE TERMS

chairs, walkway, dangerous condition, notice, district court, warn, lounge, deck, ship, walk, summary judgment, inches, obvious nature, material fact, maritime law, passengers, maritime, upright, negligent maintenance, lounge chair, possessors, employees, lay-flat, cruise, hazard, glass, contributory negligence, no duty, tripped, unsafe

Civil Procedure, Appeals, Summary Judgment Review, Standards of Review, Admiralty & Maritime Law, Maritime Tort Actions, Negligence, Burdens of Proof, Invitees, Passengers & Stowaways, Torts, Watercraft, Types of Accidents & Incidents, Injured Guests & Invitees, Standards of Care, Reasonable Care, Reasonable Person, Governments, Courts, Judicial Precedent, Elements, Duty, Foreseeability of Harm, Affirmative Duty to Act, Types of Special Relationships, Premise Owners, Maritime Personal Injuries, Maritime Tort Actions, General Premises Liability, Dangerous Conditions, Obvious Dangers, Duty to Warn, Proof, Custom, Business Customs