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Eleventh Circuit rules in maritime slip and fall case that evidence of defendant cruise line’s prior knowledge of “risk-creating condition” of wetness in pool area precluded summary judgment for defendant

On May 5, 2022, in Brady v. Carnival Corporation, No. 21-10772, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a summary judgment entered by the district court for the defendant cruise line company in a maritime premises liability case. The district court held that the defendant lacked a duty to protect the plaintiff because its crewmembers had neither actual nor constructive notice of the puddle of water that caused her to slip and fall. The Eleventh Circuit focused not on the specific puddle of water that caused the fall, but on the more general issue of whether the defendant had actual or constructive knowledge of the “risk-creating condition”, i.e., that the area of the deck where the plaintiff fell had a reasonable tendency to become slippery—and thus dangerous to passengers—due to wetness from the pool. The Eleventh Circuit noted that Carnival’s representative admitted in deposition that this area was reasonably expected to become wet, and the Eleventh Circuit found additional corroboration in the fact that warning signs were posted in the general area of the fall (but not, according to the plaintiff in her immediate view). The Eleventh Circuit indicated that it was bound by a prior decision, Carroll v. Carnival Corp., 955 F.3d 1260, 1264 (11th Cir. 2020), in which the Court reversed a summary judgment for the defendant on the issue of notice after finding evidence that prior to the plaintiff’s trip and fall over a deck chair, the defendant had taken “corrective action” to protect against such a fall by requiring that the chairs be arranged in a specific fashion.

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