About two years ago the Maryland Court of Special Appeals issued a ruling holding that a hotel guests’ negligence claim was barred as a matter of law because the guest assumed the risk of his injuries as a matter of law (the case was thrown out on summary judgment without a trial).

In this case the plaintiff (the person who was injured and filed the lawsuit) slipped on black ice that he did not see as he stepped from the hotel curb onto an area of black ice and fell and was hurt. This accident occurred at the Residence Inn Hotel (owned by Marriott) in Ellicott City, Maryland.

Should the Maryland hotel have been responsible for treating the walkway and curb? Absolutely!

Was the Maryland hotel negligent? Absolutely!

However, as a result of this Court Opinion the hotel gets a free pass and is not accountable for its negligence. As a result of this opinion it is practically impossible to win a slip and fall on ice case in Maryland. Proprietors and businesses know this, and now they have less incentive to spend the money to properly treat and salt walkways and driveways at local businesses. I think that if someone slips and falls on ice a jury should consider all of the facts and circumstances and decide whether the injured person deserves compensation or not. Unfortunately, as a result of this Court Opinion, at least in Maryland just about all slip and falls on ice will be thrown out on summary judgment without a trial. Most plaintiff attorneys will not even take the cases.

Do you agree or disagree with the holding in the Maryland premises liability case of Allen v. Marriott?

If you want a copy of the opinion, email me at [email protected] and I will send it to you. In the state of Maryland, and in the Allen case, the judge took the issue of assumption of risk away from the jury and threw the case out on “summary judgment” in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County. The Court relied on a statement from Judge Bell when he explained that the test for whether a plaintiff has assumed the risk of injury is an objective standard that ordinarily should be decided by a jury but when the risk is fully known and understood, it may be decided by the court as a matter of law.