Hendrix v. Secura Insurance (Safe Place Statute)

In Hendrix v. Secura Insurance (2018AP1103), the Court of Appeals District III allowed a plaintiff’s slip-and-fall safe place statute claim against the operator of a parking lot to proceed. The court found that the operator of the parking lot, Dedicated Fleet Services, could have had constructive notice of the unsafe condition, whereas the owner of the parking lot, 4X Corp., did not have constructive notice, dismissing 4X from the safe place statute claim.

Plaintiff George Hendrix slipped and fell in the parking lot of Dedicated Fleet Services. Hendrix then filed the instant safe place statute and negligence claims against Dedicated Fleet Services and 4X, which leased the parking lot to Dedicated Fleet Services.

Dedicated Fleet Services moved for summary judgment, arguing it did not have control over the snow removal and Hendrix did not provide evidence that Dedicated Fleet Services had constructive notice of the hazard. Under Dedicated Fleet Services’s contract with 4X, Dedicated Fleet Services would inform 4X of any snowfall, and 4X would be responsible for snow removal on the premises. However, testimony indicated that Dedicated Fleet Services did not notify 4X of the snowfall that occurred just before Hendrix’s injury. Because it was disputed whether Dedicated Fleet Services followed appropriate procedures for snow removal, the court found there was an issue of material fact barring summary judgment for Dedicated Fleet Services. Hendrix’s claim against Dedicated Fleet Services was allowed to proceed.

4X also moved for summary judgment, arguing it did not have constructive notice of the unsafe condition in the parking lot. The circuit court granted 4X’s motion for summary judgment, agreeing that 4X, as owner of the property, was not responsible for day-to-day operations and would not have had notice of the unsafe snow in the parking lot. On appeal, Dedicated Fleet Services argued that the circuit court improperly dismissed the claims against 4X. However, the appeals court found that Dedicated Fleet Services had forfeited the argument against 4X by failing to oppose 4X’s motion for summary judgment at the circuit court level.