This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Arthur A. Wojciehowski,
Filed May 31, 2005
St. Louis County District Court
File No. C3-03-603441
James W. Balmer, James B. Peterson, Tanna B. Schwarz, Falsani, Balmer, Peterson, Quinn & Beyer, 1200 Alworth Building, 306 West Superior Street, Duluth, MN 55802 (for appellant)
Eric D. Hylden, Nicole R. Weinand, Reyelts, Leighton,
Bateman, Hylden & Sturdevant, Ltd., 700
Considered and decided by Stoneburner, Presiding Judge; Hudson, Judge; and Dietzen, Judge.
In this negligence case, appellant Arthur Wojciehowski challenges the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of respondent Labovitz Enterprises. Because we conclude the district court correctly determined that respondent did not owe appellant a duty of reasonable care, we affirm.
approximately 7:30 a.m. on February 15, 2002, appellant drove into a gravel
parking lot adjacent to the
In his deposition, appellant testified it was his opinion that the parking lot was icy because snow had melted the previous day and had refrozen overnight. Appellant testified that he and other Krech Ojard employees joked about the slippery parking lot but failed to complain to anyone in the days before the accident, even though appellant knew Perrella personally. Appellant stated that the parking lot had compacted snow but it was not fully iced over the day before the accident.
amended lease (Lease) between respondent and Krech Ojard, signed July 25, 2001,
provided that Krech Ojard employees would have exclusive use of the parking lot
located adjacent to the Missabe Building, and that respondent-owner would
arrange for snowplowing services, to be paid for by Krech Ojard. The Lease stated that respondent would modify
a loading dock near the parking lot to allow room for an employee stairway to
In November 2003, appellant filed a complaint alleging that respondent was negligent in maintaining the parking lot. The district court granted summary judgment for respondent, concluding that there was no negligence because respondent did not owe a duty of reasonable care to appellant. This appeal follows.
D E C I S I O N
judgment may be granted if the pleadings,
depositions, interrogatory answers, admissions, and affidavits reveal that
there is no genuine issue of material fact and that a party is entitled
to judgment as a matter of law.
party defending against a negligence claim is entitled to summary judgment if
there is a lack of proof on any of the following elements: (1) the existence of
a duty of care; (2) breach of the duty of care; (3) injury; and (4) proximate
cause between the breach of the duty of care and the injury. Louis
v. Louis, 636 N.W.2d 314, 318 (
a landowner does not have a duty to warn a tenant or an invitee of a physical
harm if the danger on the land is known or obvious, unless the landowner should
anticipate the harm despite its obvious character. Baber
v. Dill, 531 N.W.2d 493, 495-96 (
is undisputed that respondent did not have actual knowledge of the icy parking
lot and that neither appellant nor any other Krech Ojard employee notified
respondent of the dangerous condition.
Appellant argues that respondent had constructive knowledge of the
condition because the parking lot was covered with packed snow and had been slippery
before the accident. We disagree. There is no indication in the record that
respondent should have known about the alleged icy condition at the time of the
accident. Here, appellant speculates as
to the cause and the duration of the icy condition by stating that the ice was
a product of a typical winter thawing and freezing cycle. See Rinn
knowledge of a dangerous condition “may [also] be established through evidence
that the condition was present for such a period of time so as to constitute
constructive notice of the hazard.” Rinn, 611 N.W.2d at 365. But the estimated duration of time between
the presence of ice in the parking lot on February 15, 2002, and appellant’s
accident, was so limited that respondent cannot be charged with constructive
knowledge under this theory. Appellant
testified that the parking lot was not covered with ice the day before the
accident and that he arrived at the lot “first thing in the morning.” Since the condition of the parking lot at the
end of the work day before the accident was admittedly not dangerous and there
is no indication in the record that the lot became especially dangerous at the
beginning of the next work day, no sufficient time had elapsed to charge
respondent with constructive knowledge of the ice at 7:30 a.m. the following
morning. See, e.g., Otis v. First Nat’l Bank of
Appellant also contends that the Lease between respondent and Krech Ojard contemplated that respondent had a duty to inspect the parking lot. But the Lease is between the owner and tenant, and there is no evidence tending to show that the Lease’s provisions extend to an employee of the tenant-employer. Appellant claims that because “regular inspection and maintenance of the parking lot was not assigned to Krech [Ojard] or to a third-party service vendor,” the duty to inspect remained with respondent. However, this allegation is not supported by the record before us. Appellant also asserts that since respondent modified the loading dock to permit Krech Ojard employees to access a stairway adjacent to the lot, that modification somehow created a duty. But the modification of the loading dock has no causal relationship to the accident. The crux of the matter is that respondent had no notice of an icy condition at the parking lot that would give rise to a duty to inspect.
appellant’s reliance on Peterson v. W.T.
Rawleigh Co., 274
In our case, respondent’s headquarters, for purposes of constructive knowledge, were not located near the parking lot and its employees parked at a separate lot in a different location. Additionally, nothing in the record indicates that Krech Ojard employees were elderly or had unique infirmities that should have been anticipated by respondent.
Since there are no genuine issues invalidating the material fact that it was known and obvious to appellant that the parking lot was in a dangerous condition, and because respondent could not reasonably anticipate the dangerous conditions at the time of the accident, respondent did not owe appellant a duty of reasonable care and was not negligent. The district court did not err by granting respondent’s motion for summary judgment.
 Whether Krech Ojard owed appellant a duty to provide for a safe workplace environment was not litigated before the district court, and we thus express no opinion on the issue.