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Ludman v. Davenport Assumption High Sch. - 895 N.W.2d 902 (Iowa 2017)

Rule:

A land possessor owes a duty of reasonable care to entrants on the land with regard to: (a) conduct by the land possessor that creates risks to entrants on the land; (b) artificial conditions on the land that pose risks to entrants on the land; (c) natural conditions on the land that pose risks to entrants on the land; and (d) other risks to entrants on the land when any of the affirmative duties is applicable.

Facts:

A high school baseball player, Spencer Ludman, brought a premises liability action against Davenport Assumption High School (Davenport) for his injuries after a foul ball struck him while he was standing in an unprotected part of the visitor's dugout at Davenport’s baseball field. Davenport appealed from the judgment entered on a jury verdict finding Davenport’s negligence was responsible for injuries sustained by Ludman. 

Issue:

Did substantial evidence support the jury's verdict finding that Davenport owed a duty of care to Ludman and its negligence was responsible for Ludman's injuries?

Did the trial court err in not instructing the jury about Ludman's comparative negligence?

Answer:

Yes; and Yes.

Conclusion:

The Court concluded that Davenport owed a duty of care to Ludman and substantial evidence supports the jury verdict. However, the Court found that the district court abused its discretion in not allowing Davenpor to present evidence of custom. The Court further found that the district court erred when it failed to instruct the jury on Ludman’s failure to maintain a proper lookout. Accordingly, the Court reversed the judgment of the district court and remanded the case to the district court for a new trial.

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