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Partner Colin Dunn Pens Monthly Article on Premises Liability and the Open-and-Obvious-Danger Rule

In his October 6, 2014 article for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, Clifford Law Offices Partner Colin H. Dunn wrote about a common issue raised in premises liability claims in Illinois: the open-and-obvious-danger rule. A landowner owes an invitee a duty to protect him or her from unreasonably dangerous conditions, unless the danger is open and obvious. However, Illinois cases have recognized exclusions to the open-and-obvious-danger rule, including the distraction and deliberate-encounter exceptions, both of which identify certain circumstances for which a possessor of land should anticipate injury from a dangerous condition although the condition may be open and obvious. Specifically, the "distraction" exception applies when a property owner should anticipate an invitee's attention being distracted from the open and obvious danger thus increasing the reasonable foreseeability/probability of injury. With this framework in mind, Dunn analyzes a recent Illinois Supreme Court decision in Bruns v. City of Centralia, 2014 IL 116998, where the Court applied these rules to a situation in which a woman tripped over a defect in a sidewalk as she was walking. The plaintiff claimed she was "distracted" while staring at the front door of a medical clinic. While sidewalk defects have been held as open and obvious dangers, the court's analysis did not end here. To read Colin Dunn's entire article on how the Illinois Supreme Court applied the "distraction" exception to the open-and-obvious-danger rule in Bruns, click here.

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