Washington Case Update: Internal System for Inspecting Equipment Saves Owner from Premises Liability Claim

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Washington Case Update: Internal System for Inspecting Equipment Saves Owner from Premises Liability Claim

From the Desk of Josh P. HaywardUnder premises liability law, a business owner can be liable to an invitee for an unsafe condition if the owner had “actual” or “constructive” notice of the unsafe condition.  If the business owner can show that there was an internal policy for inspecting restaurant equipment each morning, can that be sufficient to show that the owner did not have constructive notice of an unsafe condition with restaurant equipment?  Read on to find out.

Claims Pointer: In this case arising out of injuries suffered by a pizza shop customer when his chair broke, the court found that the pizza shop’s internal inspection of equipment was sufficient to show that the pizza shop did not have actual notice of the defective chair.  Further, because the plaintiff provided no evidence regarding how long the chair had been in an unsafe condition, the court found that the pizza shop did not have constructive notice of the defective chair.  This case shows how Washington courts may rule in a case involving defective equipment when the previous owner implements a system of periodical inspection of the equipment used by customers.

Haubrich v. The Pizza Specialists, Inc., No. 49540-6-II, Washington Court of Appeals Div. II (December 19, 2017)

On a warm summer day in August, Mark Haubrich (“Haubrich”) went out to eat pizza with his friend at The Pizza Specialists, Inc., Brewery City Pizza Company #3 (“Pizza Specialists”).  The two decided to eat on the outside deck.  While they were eating, Haubrich’s chair broke at the spot where the arm attaches to the seat.  When the chair broke, Haubrich fell to the ground and suffered a three-inch cut to his right thigh.  Haubrich sued Pizza Specialists for negligence, arguing that Pizza Specialists “created a dangerous condition on its premises and fail[ed] to properly inspect or...

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