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February 22, 2005
Colo. could restore "open and obvious danger" rule
Late last year, by a 4-3 vote, the Colorado Supreme Court announced an end to the longstanding common-law doctrine which protected landowners from being sued over "open and obvious dangers" on their property. (Reversing the view of the courts below, it ruled that state legislation aimed at limiting landowner duties and liabilities had implicitly repealed all common-law defenses not explicitly endorsed.) (Vigil v. Franklin, summary). The case in which it acted was one in which a couple in Otero County were sued after a member of a gardening maintenance crew dived head first into their above-ground pool, paralyzed himself, then sued on the grounds that the "No Diving" signs should have been bigger. After the state high court ruled in favor of the suit's right to go forward, the defendant couple settled for an undisclosed sum.
That's not necessarily going to be the end of the story, however, as a Rocky Mountain News story explains. State Sen. Jim Dyer, a Republican of Arapahoe County, has introduced legislation in Denver that would restore the open-and-obvious danger doctrine, most likely blocking similar suits of this sort in the future. The bill narrowly passed the Senate Judiciary Committee against opposition from members such as Sen. Dan Grossman (D-Denver). It passed the full Senate by a healthier 24-11 margin and heads now to the House. (via Colorado Civil Justice League).
Posted by Walter Olson at 12:29 AM
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