OR Case Update: Premises Liability Does Not Require “Unreasonably Dangerous Condition”

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From the desk of Ryan McLellan: A possessor of land owes a duty to protect an invitee from an unreasonable risk of harm.  But does a plaintiff also have to prove an unreasonably dangerous condition in order to prove an unreasonable risk of harm?  Read on to learn about the state of premises liability law in Oregon.

Claims Pointer: In this case arising out of a trip-and-fall, the Oregon Court of Appeals held that the possessor’s liability to an invitee is not contingent on the presence of an unreasonably dangerous condition, and that even in the absence of an unreasonably dangerous condition, a possessor may be liable for conditions that pose an unreasonable risk of harm. Further, the Court of Appeals held that where multiple conditions such as location, lighting, and nearby distractions combine, a jury should decide whether the circumstances constituted an unreasonable risk of harm and, if so, what action was necessary to warn or otherwise protect invitees from that risk.  The case is an important reminder and clarification of Oregon’s premises liability laws.

Ault v. Del Var Properties, 281 Or App 840 (October 26, 2016)

Eagle Point Mini Storage, LLC (“Eagle Point”) operates a storage facility and business office in a single-story building owned by Del Var Properties, LLC (“Del Var”).  Customers of Eagle Point were permitted to drop off their rental payments in a deposit box that was located near the front door of the office in an area that had various decorations. Although the parking lot at Eagle Point was generally level with the sidewalk, the area directly in front of the front door was raised approximately one to two inches. Tricia Ault (“Ault”) rented storage space from Eagle Point. One afternoon, Ault went to Eagle Point’s office to deposit a rental payment in a drop box. As she walked from her parked car to the drop box, she tripped over the raised section of the sidewalk. She fell and sustained injuries, and she later sued both...

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