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Skate Suit Fails
by Ron Davis

Precautions taken by the owners of a California shopping center have shielded them from blame for a roller-blading accident on their property.

The shopping center is located in Saratoga, and the accident occurred when an employee of one of the centerís tenants collided with a shopper after the shopper had just exited that tenantís store.

At the time of the accident, the employee was on his way to work at that store and apparently lost his balance on the blades as he neared his destination. As a result of the collision, the shopper suffered lower-extremity injuries. She later sued the shopping centerís owners as well as the roller-blader and the store that employed him.

In her lawsuit against the owners of the shopping center, she argued that they were negligent in failing to post signs banning roller-blading on center property. She also maintained that the centerís owners should have at least instructed tenants to prohibit employees from roller-blading at the center.

The shopping centerís owners pointed out, however, that the city of Saratoga did not have any laws forbidding roller-blading, either on public or private property. Furthermore, the owners added, the management company for the shopping center routinely inspected the property (at least once a week) and never reported seeing anyone roller-blading there. The inspector also said she had never received any complaints about roller-blading or roller-skating during her surveillance.

The centerís owners therefore contended that because they had no notice that roller-blading had ever occurred on their property, they had no duty to control or supervise the store employee who collided with the shopper.

A California court ruled in favor of the shopping centerís owners, explaining, ďThe injured woman does not present any evidence that an accident involving roller-skating on the sidewalk could be reasonably anticipated to harm a customer. Because the undisputed evidence establishes that the centerís owners could not reasonably anticipate that negligent roller-skating on the premises would harm customers, they had no duty to post signs or otherwise instruct tenant employees.Ē

The injured woman appealed that ruling.

A California appellate court agreed that the centerís owners used proper precautions and judgment in providing for the safety of its patrons. (Pan v. Safeway Stores, Inc., Cal.App. 6 Dist., 2008)

Decision: May 2008
Published: June 2008



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