HOMEOWNER LIABLE FOR AGGRESSIVE GEESE??

Photo by David Evers [some rights reserved] In a divided opinion issued yesterday, the Mississippi Supreme Court reversed the grant of summary judgment in a case involving an attack by a domestic goose. The plaintiff in the case, Janet Olier was attacked and injured by a domestic goose owned by the defendant, Donna Bailey. Olier sued Bailey in the County Court of Jackson County under the theory of premises liability and, alternatively, under the dangerous propensity rule. The trial court granted summary judgment for Olier which was affirmed by the Circuit Court of Jackson County. On appeal to the Mississippi Supreme Court, the finding was affirmed that there was no general premises liability claim, but reversed so that Olier could proceed under the dangerous-propensity rule. The basic facts were that Olier wanted to see Bailey’s blooming banana plant. Bailey kept domestic geese in her yard. Baily told Olier that the geese would not bite as long as Bailey was present, and Bailey gave Olier a bamboo pole to fend off the birds. However, the geese came at Olier squawking and hissing and a goose reached out and nipped her. Olier then turned to run and tripped over a bucket breaking her arm. In evaluating the premise liability claim, the Court analyzed the status of Olier and agreed that she was a licensee. As a licensee, Bailey only owed Olier a duty to refrain from willfully or wantonly injuring her. Primarily because the geese were not a hidden danger – Bailey had a sign warning visitors of their presence – the Court found that Bailey did not breach her duty...

HOTEL BEDS ARE NOT DANGEROUS PER SE

          photo by Prayitno Some rights reserved The Mississippi Court of Appeals recently ruled that a casino hotel bed was not an unreasonably dangerous condition.  According to the opinion, a hotel guest suffered a broken ankle when she hit her ankle against a metal bed frame that was hidden by a bed spread. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the casino. In affirming the trial court, the Court of Appeals noted that there was no evidence on the key elements for a premises liability case. Specifically, the Court found no evidence that the bed was a dangerous condition; or, that the Casino caused the dangerous condition; or, that the Casino knew of the dangerous condition before the injury. Notably, the Plaintiff’s lawyer did not help his client (or the profession) when he sued the casino but neglected to to designate a liability expert, file discovery or take any depositions. Apparently, the lawyer was not aware of the legal principle that proof of injury is not...

HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION NOT LIABLE FOR BOAT WRECK

Because we have represented a number of homeowner’s associations over the years, we noted with interest the recent decision by the Mississippi Court of Appeals rejecting an attempt to hold a homeowner’s association liable for a boating accident. The case itself involves the Lake Caroline Owners Association (“LCOA”) and its 800 acre lake. The underlying accident occurred on a summer evening after sunset in 2011. Two couples were enjoying themselves on a pontoon boat that was anchored in the middle of the lake. Another boat was apparently speeding across the water when it took a hard turn and crashed into the pontoon boat causing injuries to two of the people on the boat. The two injured people not only sued the operator of the speeding boat, but also the LCOA. The legal theory asserted was that the LCOA failed to maintain a safe lake. In response to the lawsuit, the LCOA filed a motion for summary judgment arguing that it did not have any reason to anticipate the boating accident, and thus owed no duty to the plaintiffs. In an attempt to defeat summary judgment, the plaintiffs presented an affidavit by a boating safety expert who claimed that the accident was reasonably foreseeable because there had been a previous boating accident in 2005. The plaintiffs also presented nonspecific affidavit testimony that other boats had been seen traveling at a high speed in the past.  Based on these affidavits the plaintiffs claimed that the existence of dangerous boat drivers was a known problem on the lake, and that this problem should have been addressed by better rules and a safety...