Yes, this is a real appellate court decision in Illinois...

I can't say that I have ever had a case that wasn't subject to some defense.  With regard to premises liability cases plaintiffs are almost always confronted with one or more of the following:

  1. open and obvious
  2. deminimus 
  3. lack of notice

I was shocked to read the 2nd District Appellate Court's decision in Kun Mook Lee v. Young Rok Lee, 2019 IL App (2d) 180923 because I have taken on some tough cases...I have heard stories of even tougher cases...but this one might very well take the cake.  The Court wasn't shy about its characterization of the plaintiff's conduct.  I think most of us could think of someone we know who might engage in this type of behavior.  I am happy to say, however, that this one was not our client.  If you wish to read the whole opinion, it can be found here.  Otherwise, just skip to the "good part," and read the excerpt below:

Although defendant, as a landowner, had a general duty to protect plaintiff, his invitee, from dangerous conditions on his property, the open-and-obvious rule provided an exception to that duty because the conduct that plaintiff engaged in, tying two ladders together, placing the top ladder against the very tree limb that was to be cut, climbing the ladders with dress shoes on and a chainsaw in his hand, and, finally, cutting the limb that led to his fall constituted, as a matter of law, freakish, bizarre, and fantastic circumstances; plaintiff was barred from recovery since he assumed the risk when he knew that cutting the limb under the circumstances was dangerous but decided to do so anyway.

Our firm prides itself on representing worthy clients, victims of negligence, not people who make reckless mistakes putting themselves in danger.  Our reputation as one of Naperville's best injury law firms has been built by making the right choice, even if it is a difficult choice, and our reputation among the legal community has been built over decades, one case at a time. 

There is a well-known stigma against slip and fall victims - jurors and the public like to blame the person who fell saying, "they should have been watching where they were going."  In some cases, that is true.  In other cases, however, the landowner deserves to have a finger pointed in its direction and either take the blame completely, or at least share in the blame.  We do not walk with our eyes focused on directly in front of our feet.  We do not inspect grassy for holes before walking across them.  We know it is icy in the wintertime in the midwest and we walk carefully, but we also do not expect a business to allow dangerous sheets of ice to exist concealed under freshly fallen snow, we don't expect professional snow removal companies to improperly remove snow making the area more dangerous than before it was plowed.  A careful person can still slip and fall when a landowner fails to make its property safe.

We have represented clients who fell in grocery stores - a lady who was weighing produce and a store employee mopped right behind her without warning.  We have represented slips and falls on ice - a lady who was leaving work and slipped on a sheet of ice concealed by snow that formed because the snow removal company piled the snow uphill from a walking surface allowing it to melt and refreeze on the parking lot.  We have represented clients in trip and falls with sidewalk deviations or improperly constructed ramps.  

These lawsuits, our clients, and our firm serve an important role in our community.  We tell landowners that they have to keep their property safe, because if they don't we will hold them accountable.  A customer should not have to dodge booby-traps to enter the business they are patronizing and every business owner's first priority...ahead of EVERYTHING else...should be their customers' safety.  Safety before profit.  Safety before aesthetics.  Safety before sales.  That's why they say, "SAFETY FIRST."


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