The Hidden Bottle

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Q: At an indoor facility, I was playing tennis.  As I was pedaling backwards to hit a ball, I came into contact with a curtain separating the court from a wall.  Behind the curtain, someone had left an empty plastic water bottle.  I stepped on this hidden bottle – and slipped backwards and fall.

A: The owner may choose to contend that this water bottle was a risk ‘inherent’ in indoor tennis.  He will say that, because you were a voluntary participant, you consented to the ‘commonly-appreciated’ risks which are inherent in the nature of tennis generally – which ‘flow’ from your participation.

Your attorney will note that the water bottle was not within the playing area of the tennis court, and moreover it was concealed.  There was nothing inherent here.  Rather, by failing to inspect and clean behind the curtain, the owner had unreasonably increased the danger.

The owner has the initial burden of establishing that it neither created nor possessed actual or constructive notice of the offending bottle.  To meet this burden, the owner must offer some evidence as to when the area behind the curtain was last cleaned or inspected relative to the time when you fell.  The owner is not saved by mere reference to general cleaning practices, without evidence regarding a specific cleaning or inspection.

By: Scott Baron,
Attorney at Law Advertorial

The law responds to changed conditions; exceptions and variations abound. Here, the information is general; always seek out competent counsel. This article shall not be construed as legal advice.

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