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An operator of a cruise ship has a duty to warn only of known dangers that are not open and obvious. In evaluating whether a danger is open and obvious courts are guided—as in general tort law—by the reasonable person standard.
Plaintiff 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. Plaintiff challenged the decision.
Was the grant of summary judgment in favor of the Carnival proper in this case because the alleged dangerous condition was “open” and “obvious”?
The court reversed the judgment, holding that summary judgment was not warranted under the circumstances. In particular, viewing the facts in the light most favorable to the passenger, the record supported an inference that a reasonable person in the plaintiff passenger's circumstances would not have observed the chair leg obstructing her path, and thus, there was a genuine dispute of material fact as to whether the danger associated with the walkway was open and obvious.