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Premises Liability at a Texas Rodeo

Legal News GavelIn a recent Texas premises liability lawsuit, the plaintiff sued a property owner for premises liability and negligence after tripping over a floor mat at a rodeo. The rodeo was operated at NRG Park for three weeks in March. NRG Park was made up of three entities (including a stadium, arena, and center) and owned by a corporation that hired a management company to oversee the daily operations of the NRG Park complex.

The center had concrete floors, and the management company was supposed to install rubber mats there based on the rodeo’s lease agreement. These mats were stored during times of non-operation. While the event was being prepared, the rodeo told the management company where to put the floor mats. These were unrolled and duct taped together. However, they were not taped to the floor.

After the rodeo started, the rodeo would have responsibility for maintaining the mats. The management company was supposed to assist by replacing tape where necessary.

In 2014, the plaintiff came to the rodeo with her daughter and other family members. As she walked in the center, a floor mat was curled in the corner and obscured by wood shavings. She tripped over it. She fractured an eye socket and arm, hurt her knee, and tore her rotator cuff. She had to have knee replacement surgery.

The plaintiff sued the rodeo, claiming it was negligent for covering the floor with sawdust and not keeping it level in places where people walk, among other things. She also claimed there was a dangerous property condition about which the rodeo knew or should have known, and it failed to repair or warn her about it. She amended her complaint to claim the same causes of action against the management company.

The management company moved for summary judgment, arguing it wasn’t a possessor of the place where she was injured. It argued the rodeo was in control, and the plaintiff had no proof of a negligent activity that occurred in connection with her injury. It also argued it had no notice.

The plaintiff argued the management company knew the duct tape would fail and had superior knowledge about the risks related to the floor mats. She also argued it had a duty to warn patrons. She argued that the management company was making repairs by replacing duct tape, but it was making repairs in the same negligent way as the installation of the mats. She argued that the floor was installed in an unreasonable way and against the manufacturer’s recommendations, so it was presumed to know of the condition. Among the pieces of evidence she attached was an affidavit from an engineer with a negative opinion about how the floor mats were secured.

Summary judgment was granted in favor of the management company. The plaintiff appealed. She argued that the management company owed her a duty, and it had knowledge of the dangerous condition created by securing mats using duct tape.

The appellate court explained that the plaintiff’s claim was not that she was hurt due to a negligent activity. Instead, she was asserting a premises liability cause of action. The threshold issue of the claim was whether the defendant had actual or constructive notice of a dangerous condition. The plaintiff argued there was actual knowledge of the dangerous condition, since the company knew the floor mats would curl up and therefore required added tape. However, she didn’t argue a dangerous condition existed from the time the floor mats were duct taped down.

She argued a different method should have been used to hold the mats down. However, she didn’t give evidence about how long the floor mat had been curled up for the purpose of establishing constructive notice. The appellate court found that she didn’t present proof of actual or constructive notice of the condition of the mats, and it found summary judgment was properly granted for the management company.

If you are injured on somebody else’s property, you should consult a Texas attorney with experience in premises liability cases to seek a favorable outcome. Consult the experienced San Antonio attorneys at Carabin & Shaw for more information at 1-800-862-1260.

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