may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).
Soo Line Railroad Company, a corporation,
d/b/a CP Rail System,
File No. 96011804
Considered and decided by Peterson, Presiding Judge, Kalitowski, Judge, and Short, Judge.
After meeting in the parking lot, the three walked south along the railroad tracks to inspect the area where Wolf was injured. Wolf and Frazer testified that they did not experience any trouble walking along the tracks. As the group passed a scale shack, a Soo Line employee said hello to them; he did not direct them to leave or say anything to indicate that they were trespassing. Once the group reached the accident site, Vados took photographs of the area. The group then started back to the parking lot, taking the same path. At some point, Vados decided to take an unmarked path that ran east, away from Soo Line's property, through a neighboring park to the road. Wolf and Frazer followed Vados.
The surface of the unmarked path was uneven with hard packed snow and ice. Frazer slipped, fell backwards, and was injured when she hit her head on the ground. Frazer testified that her fall occurred during daylight hours, it was not snowing out, she could see the condition of the path as she approached, and the snow was not hidden from her view. She also testified that having experienced many Minnesota winters, she was aware that a path covered with snow could likely be slippery, but she did not think about that at the time.
Frazer sued Soo Line alleging that it was negligent in failing to maintain its property in a reasonably safe condition and in failing to warn her of the snow and ice covered path. The district court granted Soo Line's motion for summary judgment. Frazer appeals.
cannot rely on the pleadings alone to defeat a summary judgment motion but instead must produce specific facts which establish the existence of a genuine issue for trial.
Krogness v. Best Buy Co., 524 N.W.2d 282, 285 (Minn. App. 1994), review denied (Minn. Jan. 25, 1995).
[S]ummary judgment on a claim is mandatory against a party who fails to establish an essential element of that claim, if that party has the burden of proof, because this failure renders all other facts immaterial.
Lloyd. v. In Home Health, Inc., 523 N.W.2d 2, 3 (Minn. App. 1994).
Frazer argues that a material fact issue exists regarding whether she was a trespasser or had Soo Line's implied consent to enter its property. We disagree.
As to materiality, the substantive law will identify which facts are material. Only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S. Ct. 2505 2510 (1986).
For purposes of determinig what duty a landowner owes to one who enters the landowner's property, Minnesota distinguishes between a trespasser and one whom the landowner has expressly or by implication invited onto the property. Peterson v. Balach, 294 Minn. 161, 164-65, 199 N.W.2d 639, 642 (1972) (abolishing distinctions governing licensees and invitees and declining to rule on landowner's duty to trespasser). A trespasser is "one who enters or remains on the land without the express or implied consent of the possessor of land." Rieger v. Zackoski, 321 N.W.2d 16, 20 (Minn. 1982).
Generally, a landowner does not owe a duty to a trespasser. But if the landowner knows or should know that a trespasser is present on the premises, then the landowner has a narrowly defined duty to use reasonable care for the safety of the trespasser while carrying on his activities, or to use reasonable care to warn the trespasser of the danger or risk involved. However, there is an exception to the trespasser rule: a landowner's duty of reasonable care does not extend to warn or protect against risks which the trespasser knew or, from the facts, should have known.
Doe v. Brainerd Int'l Raceway, Inc., 533 N.W.2d 617, 621 (Minn. 1995) (citations omitted).
When a person enters onto land with an owner's express or implied consent, the owner must exercise reasonable care under the circumstances. Zackoski, 321 N.W.2d at 20. Even for obvious dangers, a landowner has a duty to warn if harm to a person coming onto the land with permission "should be anticipated despite the obviousness of the danger." See Baber v. Dill, 531 N.W.2d 493, 496 (Minn. 1995). A landowner has no duty, however, "where the anticipated harm involves dangers so obvious that no warning is necessary because `no one needs notice of what he knows or reasonably may be expected to know.'" Id. (quoting Sowles v. Urschel Lab., Inc., 595 F.2d 1361, 1365 (8th Cir. 1979).
It is immaterial whether Frazer trespassed on Soo Line's property or entered the property with Soo Line's consent, because in either case, Soo Line owned her no duty regarding the snow-covered path. The record demonstrates that: (1) Frazer could see the "bumpy snow" on the path as she approached it; (2) the "bumpy snow" and ice on the path were not hidden from her view; (3) Frazer had no trouble seeing; and (4) having experienced many Minnesota winters, Frazer was aware that a path covered with snow could be slippery. The danger presented by the path was so obvious that Soo Line owed Frazer no duty.
Because Frazer's negligence claims fail on the above rationale, we need not address the district court's alternative grounds for granting summary judgment.
We grant Soo Line's motion to strike from the appendix to Frazer's brief the pages from Frazer's and Wolf's depositions that were not filed in the district court. See Minn. R. Civ. App. P. 110.01 (papers filed in district court, "the exhibits, and the transcript of the proceedings, if any, shall constitute the record on appeal in all cases").