Grubb v. Smith

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Justia Opinion Summary

This personal injury suit arose from a 2007 trip-and-fall at the Speedway SuperAmerica filling-station in Manchester. After a bench trial, the circuit court found for Teresa and Randy Grubb (together, Plaintiffs) and against Speedway SuperAmerica LLC, the store’s owner, and Roxanne Smith, the store’s manager at the time of the accident (collectively, Defendants). The court of appeals reversed and remanded for entry of a defense judgment, concluding that the trial court erred by failing to apply the “open and obvious” doctrine under the circumstances of this case. On discretionary review, the Supreme Court remanded to the court of appeals for reconsideration in light of the Court’s recent attempts to modernize the open and obvious doctrine and to harmonize it with tort law’s shift to a regime of comparative negligence. On remand, the court of appeals stood by its prior ruling. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the court of appeals read recent precedent too narrowly; (2) the trial court erred by failing to consider whether Teresa shared responsibility for the accident and by failing to find that she did; and (3) the trial court erred in finding Smith jointly and severally liable with Speedway on Plaintiffs’ claims.