David P. Miraldi
Dorothy McGuire was marching in a Memorial Day parade in Lorain, Ohio when she stepped into an uncapped monument box in the middle of the street and broke her ankle. A monument box is a lidded cast-iron container that houses a property pin. She sued the City of Lorain for failing to properly maintain the parade route. The City attempted to have the case dismissed through summary judgment.
The City of Lorain argued that it was not liable for a number of reasons. First, the city argued that Ms. McGuire was a recreational user on its property and, by statute, owners of recreational property are not liable to those who are injured on the property. The court ruled that a four lane highway does not turn into a recreational piece of property just because someone marches in a parade on Memorial Day.
The City also argued that Ms. McGuire could not prove that the city knew of the uncapped box or reasonably should have known based on the length of time the defect had existed. Although the city did not have actual knowledge of the defect, the court ruled that a jury could determine that it should have been discovered when city officials were inspecting the parade route before the parade.
The court did not address the issue of whether the open box in the middle of the road was an open and obvious condition for which Ms. McGuire should have discovered on her own. That issue will be determined after the case is sent back to the trial court.
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