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Legal Memorandum: Duty to Warn of a Dangerous Condition

Issue: Under the laws of the Virgin Islands, when faced with the issue of whether a party breached a duty to warn of a dangerous condition, must a court refrain from granting summary judgment?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure, Personal Injury & Negligence
Keywords: Summary judgment; Breach of duty to warn of a dangerous condition
Jurisdiction: Federal, Virgin Islands
Cited Cases: 456 A.2d 151
Cited Statutes: Restatement (Second) of Torts § 343, cmt. d.
Date: 11/01/2004

Under Restatement § 343, “[a]n invitee is entitled to expect” the landowner to take reasonable care to assess the condition of the premises, and either make the conditions safe by repairing defects, or “give warning of the actual condition and the risk involved therein.”  Restatement (Second) of Torts § 343, cmt. d.  Summary judgment is not warranted when a reasonable jury could conclude that the defendant failed to warn the plaintiff in accordance with the principles stated in Restatement § 343.  Bersani v. Sch. Dist. of Philadelphia, 456 A.2d 151, 155-56 (Pa. Super. Ct. 1982)(reversing summary judgment in favor of the defendant school district).

In Bersani, a nine-year-old boy was struck in the head by a batter’s bat while the boy was positioned as catcher in an after-school baseball game on school premises.  The plaintiff argued, inter alia, that the cause of this accident was the position of the painted mark that served as home plate, which the school district had placed too close to the backing fence to allow adequate room for two players.  Id. at 153-54.  The plaintiff alleged that the school district did not exercise reasonable care to protect him from the danger—of which it was aware, having painted the home-base mark—by warning minor children of dangers inherent in playing baseball without adequate facilities.  Id. at 155.  The Pennsylvania court held that there was sufficient evidence to raise a genuine issue of material fact as to the failure–to-warn issue, such that summary judgment was […]

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