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Case Law Update: Distraction Exception in Premises Liability

Wilfong v. L.J. Dodd Construction, No. 2-09-0347 (5-27-10) affirmed that a a project manager on elementary school construction project, was injured when he fell while walking across ruts on muddy construction site, while talking on his cell phone about his work. Summary judgment properly granted, as ruts were open and obvious, given Plaintiff’s testimony that tops of ruts were unstable and he was looking at ruts to determine his next step and was familiar with how to avoid ruts on jobsite. Distraction exception did not apply as distraction was solely within Plaintiff’s own creation, because Plaintiff chose to continue walking on ruts while on his phone, and distraction was not reasonably foreseeable by Defendants. Court did not err in giving little or no weight to expert’s statement offered with motion to reconsider, as no indication that statement was not available prior to summary judgment hearing. This case will impact premises liability in Illinois.