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Law School Case Brief

Costa v. Bos. Red Sox Baseball Club - 61 Mass. App. Ct. 299, 809 N.E.2d 1090 (2004)

Rule:

Although an owner or possessor of land owes to all persons lawfully on the premises a common law duty of reasonable care to maintain the property in a reasonably safe condition and to warn visitors of any unreasonable dangers of which the landowner is aware or reasonably should be aware, the duty to warn does not extend to dangers that would be obvious to persons of average intelligence. Where a danger would be obvious to a person of ordinary perception and judgment, a landowner may reasonably assume that a visitor has knowledge of it and, therefore, any further warning would be an empty form that would not reduce the likelihood of resulting harm. 

Facts:

Plaintiff Jane Costa attended a baseball game at a stadium in which defendant Boston Red Sox Baseball Club participated. A foul ball struck plaintiff in the face, causing severe, permanent injuries. Plaintiff a negligence action against defendant in Massachusetts state court, seeking compensation for her injuries. Plaintiff contended that defendant was negligent in failing to warn spectators of the danger of being hit by a foul ball. The trial court granted defendant's motion for summary judgment.

Issue:

Could defendant be compelled to compensate plaintiff for her injuries?

Answer:

No.

Conclusion:

The appellate court affirmed the order of the trial court. The court was persuaded that the potential for a foul ball to enter the stands and injure a spectator who was seated in an unscreened area was, as a matter of law, sufficiently obvious that defendant reasonably could have concluded that a person of ordinary intelligence would have perceived the risk and needed no additional warning. The court held that defendant had no duty to warn plaintiff of the obvious danger of a foul ball being hit into the stands.

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