A hazard known by a plaintiff, but assumed anyway, is not actionable.
New Jersey case law is never short on family drama. Here, the defendant requested her three adult children to cover her backyard pool, which was above ground and surrounded by a wooden deck. While pulling a tarp over the pool, the plaintiff fell into it and broke her left hand. She brought suit, claiming the defendant’s failure keep a mesh fence and/or guard around the pool caused her injuries. The lower court granted summary judgment for the defendant, reasoning the plaintiff was familiar with the site of her accident and there was no dangerous condition. The New Jersey Appellate Division affirmed, stating that the plaintiff knew of the potential risk of injury associated with putting a tarp over the pool, but she nonetheless assumed the risk. This case is a reminder to defense counsel that a hazard known by a plaintiff assumed anyway is not actionable. This case is also a reminder to keep family business out of the courtroom—even in Jersey.
Case Law Alerts, 1st Quarter, January 2019
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