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The obviousness and apparentness of a potentially dangerous condition are relevant factors to be considered under the duty-risk analysis. If the facts of a particular case show that the complained of condition should be obvious to all, the condition may not be unreasonably dangerous and the defendant may owe no duty to the plaintiff.
When a snowstorm was expected, the Housing Department at Louisiana Tech University ("Tech") issued a winter storm bulletin that encouraged sledding in proper areas and to use good judgment. Plaintiff Earl Garland Pitre, Jr. sustained serious spinal injuries and paralysis when the plastic garbage can lid that he was sledding upon collided with the concrete base of a light pole located in a campus parking lot. Plaintiff filed suit against Tech and the State of Louisiana, alleging that Tech was negligent in the following respects: (1) encouraging students, by way of the Winter Storms Bulletin, to engage in sledding activities in areas which Tech knew or should have known were hazardous; (2) failing to erect cushions around solid objects to prevent sledding injuries; (3) failing to warn students of the hazards which might be encountered in the area in which sledding took place; and (4) failing to prohibit sledding in the area where the accident occurred. The defendants moved for summary judgment claiming that Tech had no duty to plaintiff. The trial court granted the defendants' motion, finding that the danger of striking a fixed object while sledding was obvious and apparent. Accordingly, the trial court held that Tech had no duty to warn, that the Winter Storms Bulletin did not create an affirmative duty, and that there was no duty to place cushions around the light poles. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that Tech's general duty as a landowner, to discover unreasonably dangerous conditions or uses of its premises and to either correct or warn of their existence, was heightened by its relationship with plaintiff as a dormitory resident and student. Plaintiff appealed.
According to the Court, when deciding whether a condition was unreasonably dangerous, the obviousness or apparentness of the complained of condition was a factor to be considered as part of the likelihood of the harm element. Under the facts of the case, the Court found that sledding was not inherently dangerous and that the light pole and the danger of sledding down the hill into the pole were obvious and apparent to all on the evening of the accident. Thus, the light pole did not present an unreasonably dangerous condition and Tech had no duty to warn of the apparent danger or take steps to protect against injury. According to the Court, the Housing Department's Winter Storms Bulletin, and the plaintiff's relationship with Tech did not change this conclusion. Accordingly, the Court reversed the court of appeals and dismissed the case.