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Eighth District: Appeal from Cleveland Roller Skater Injured by Splinters Falls Flat

Image of a shelf filled with roller skates (Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock)

A Euclid roller rink didn’t have a duty to protect a 9-year-old from splinters and injuries to her hand when she skated through a non-skating area.

Image of a shelf filled with roller skates (Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock)

A Euclid roller rink didn’t have a duty to protect a 9-year-old from splinters and injuries to her hand when she skated through a non-skating area.

A Euclid roller-skating rink didn’t subject a 9-year-old girl to an unreasonably dangerous condition when she ran her hand across a wooden partition while skating, resulting in splinters, stitches, and surgery, the Eighth District Court of Appeals ruled yesterday.

The unanimous appeals court explained the roller rink prohibited skating in the area where the partition was located and the girl knew she wasn’t supposed to skate there. The roller rink therefore didn’t violate its duty to keep the premises in a reasonably safe condition and to warn visitors about hidden dangers, the court concluded.

Family Sues for Injuries
The girl, identified as K.S., went roller skating with her uncle and cousins on Feb. 8, 2014, at Pla-Mor Roller Rink, where she skated at least once a week. In front of the skate-rental counter is a wooden partition that divides the counter area from seating for customers to put on and take off skates.

K.S., on her skates, grabbed the counter and partition to push herself through the area. She dragged her right hand along the partition, and splinters pierced her hand. The splinters were taken out, and she had to get stitches and then surgery.

The lawsuit claimed Pla-Mor was negligent for the girl’s injuries. The rink asked the trial court to decide the case without a trial and alleged the family didn’t have a case. The court agreed and granted summary judgment to Pla-Mor.

Court Rules Rink Met Its Responsibilities
In the appeal to the Eighth District, K.S. and her mother argued a trial was needed to decide whether the rink created an unreasonably dangerous condition and breached its duty of care to the girl and whether the risk of splinters was “open and obvious.”

“It is well settled that a property owner is under no duty to protect a business invitee against dangers that are known to the invitee or are so obvious and apparent to the invitee that he may reasonably be expected to discover them and protect himself against them,” Judge Frank D. Celebrezze Jr. wrote for the court.

He noted skating isn’t permitted in the area by the counter and partition. K.S.’s mom, uncle, and cousins, along with the rink’s owner, had told her not to skate in that location. Her family asserted, however, that employees didn’t warn K.S. she could get splinters from the partition. The court rejected the argument because the rink’s owner had testified that the partition was smooth, not splintering, and that no other customers had experienced splinters from the wood divider. K.S. didn’t establish the minimum facts needed to pursue her case, the court determined.

The court also concluded the danger of possible splinters was open and obvious, so a customer could protect herself without any additional cautions from the rink owner. While a property owner’s duty of care is greater for children than for adults, Judge Celebrezze pointed out that K.S. had been warned repeatedly about skating near the counter and said she understood the risks. The judge reasoned the trial court applied the open and obvious doctrine correctly.

Judges Eileen A. Gallagher and Mary J. Boyle joined Judge Celebrezze’s opinion, which affirmed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment to Pla-Mor.

K.S. v. Pla-Mor Roller Rink, 2016-Ohio-815
Civil Appeal From: Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas
Judgment Appealed From Is: Affirmed
Date of Judgment Entry on Appeal: March 3, 2016

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