Landowners and individuals who invite another person into their home owe their invitees a duty to protect them from unreasonably dangerous conditions. But what happens when an invitee is also aware of the dangerous condition and knowingly attempts to navigate it, but ultimately hurts him or herself? Is the landowner still liable for the injuries that occurred, or does the invitee take on liability because they willingly subjected themselves to such conditions? A recent case before the Supreme Court of Kentucky looks at liability when the danger is “open and obvious.”
In Goodwin v. Al J. Schneider Co., Mr. Goodwin was attending a convention at Galt House, owned by the defendant. On the second day of the convention, Mr. Goodwin slipped and fell while getting into the bathtub and injured his knee. The bathtub in his room did not have a bathmat, and the floor of the bathtub was quite slick. After his fall, the Galt House provided Mr. Goodwin with a bathmat, and he later learned that many of the other rooms at the Galt House already had bathmats. In response, Mr. Goodwin sued, arguing that the slick surface of his bathtub was a dangerous condition and that the Galt House knew it was dangerous because it provided other rooms with bathmats. By failing to put a bathmat in his room, Mr. Goodwin alleged that the Galt House knowingly failed to exercise reasonable care for his safety. In response, the Galt House moved for summary judgment, arguing that Mr. Goodwin was equally aware of the slick surface of the bathtub and should have exercised care himself. Since he did not do so, he was liable.