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As a general rule, an owner or operator breaches the duty it owes to a business invitee if (1) the owner or operator had actual or constructive knowledge of some condition on the premises, (2) the condition posed an unreasonable risk of harm to the invitee, (3) the owner or operator failed to exercise reasonable care to reduce or eliminate the risk, and (4) the failure to use such care proximately caused the plaintiff's injuries. Generally, this duty may be discharged by adequately warning business invitees of any unreasonable risks of harm or by making the premises reasonably safe.
Delia Jaquez filed suit against Reliable Consultants, Inc. d/b/a Dreamers ("Dreamers") under a premises liability theory. A ramp connected the upper and lower levels of Dreamers’ store. Near the ramp was a display. A foot away from the ramp was a step. Jaquez looked at the display briefly and failed to notice the step's five-inch drop. She fell and broke her ankle. A former manager testified several people had stumbled on the step or been surprised it was there. The jury ruled for Jaquez, but found her 40 percent contributorily negligent. Dreamers challenged the remaining judgment.
Was there sufficient evidence to support the jury's findings that Dreamers knew or should have known of that unreasonable risk of harm?
The court held the evidence supported the verdict against Dreamers. The court held that Dreamers had actual notice of the hazard and did not take precautions. The court also held the trial court did not err in admitting expert testimony or in the jury charges it gave, and held the damages award was properly calculated.