United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Rock Hill Division
ORDER AND OPINION
Tracey Corrada alleges that she suffered a serious wrist
injury after a trip and fall at Carowinds Amusement Park on
May 26, 2015. (ECF No. 1-1 at 4 ¶ 13.) The matter before
the court is a Motion for Summary Judgment filed by
Defendants Cedar Fair LP, Cedar Fair Entertainment Company,
and Carowinds, LLC. (ECF No. 37.) For the reasons below, the
court DENIES Defendants' Motion for
Summary Judgment (ECF No. 37).
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
court has jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1332(a)(1) based on Defendants' allegations that
Plaintiff is a resident of the County of Lexington in South
Carolina (ECF No. 1-1 at 3 ¶ 1) and Defendant Cedar Fair
is an Ohio-based LLP that owns and operates Carowinds, LLC,
an amusement park in Fort Mill, South Carolina. (Id.
at 3 ¶¶ 1, 2.) Moreover, the court is satisfied
that the amount in controversy exceeds the sum of
seventy-five thousand ($75, 000.00) dollars, exclusive of
interest and costs. (ECF Nos. 1 at 1-2; 1-1 at 3.)
December 7, 2019, Plaintiff filed a Complaint in the York
County Court of Common Pleas, C/A No. 2017-CP-46-3665,
alleging that she tripped and fell on a raised cart pad and
“as a result of the fall, [she] sustained serious and
bodily injuries.” (Id. at 4, 5 ¶¶
13, 15.) Plaintiff claims that she was “walking with
her 15-year-old stepdaughter in the direction of the roller
coaster ‘After Burn' . . . exercis[ing] due care
[while] walking on a foreseeable path.” (Id.
at 4, 5 ¶¶ 13, 14.) Plaintiff alleges that
“Defendants constructed a defective walkway that caused
[her] to trip, fall, and break her wrist.”
(Id. at 5 ¶ 18.) On February 12, 2018,
Defendants filed a Notice of Removal from York County Court
of Common Pleas. (ECF No. 1.) On June 28, 2019, Defendants
filed a Motion for Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 37.) Plaintiff
filed a response in opposition on July 11, 2019 (ECF No. 41.)
On October 2, 2019, the court held a hearing on
Defendants' motion. (ECF No. 59.)
judgment should be granted “if the movant shows that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the
movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A fact is “material” if proof
of its existence or non-existence would affect the
disposition of the case under the applicable law. See
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248-49
(1986). A genuine question of material fact exists where,
after reviewing the record as a whole, the court finds that a
reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving
party. See Newport News Holdings Corp. v. Virtual City
Vision, 650 F.3d 423, 434 (4th Cir. 2011). In ruling on
a motion for summary judgment, a court must view the evidence
in the light most favorable to the non-moving party.
Perini Corp. v. Perini Constr., Inc., 915 F.2d 121,
123-24 (4th Cir. 1990). The nonmoving party may not oppose a
motion for summary judgment with mere allegations or denial
of the movant's pleading, but instead must “set
forth specific facts” demonstrating a genuine issue for
trial. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e); see also Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986); Anderson,
477 U.S. at 252; Shealy v. Winston, 929 F.2d 1009,
1012 (4th Cir. 1991). All that is required is that
“sufficient evidence supporting the claimed factual
dispute be shown to require a jury or judge to resolve the
parties' differing versions of the truth at trial.”
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249.
assert liability based on a negligence claim in South
Carolina, a plaintiff must show that (1) defendant owed a
duty of care; (2) defendant breached this duty by a negligent
act or omission; (3) defendant's breach was the proximate
cause of plaintiff's injuries; and (4) plaintiff suffered
injury or damages. Dorrell v. S.C. DOT, 605 S.E.2d
12, 15 (S.C. 2004) (citation omitted). “Whether the law
recognizes a particular duty is an issue of law to be
determined by the court.” Jackson v. Swordfish
Inv., L.L.C., 620 S.E.2d 54, 56 (S.C. 2005) (citation
landowner is not required to maintain premises in such
condition that no accident could happen to a patron using
them. See Denton v. Winn-Dixie Greenville, Inc., 439
S.E.2d 292, 293 (S.C. 1993). Under South Carolina law, the
owner of property owes business visitors or invitees the duty
of exercising reasonable and ordinary care for their safety
and is liable for any injuries resulting from a breach of
such duty. See H.P. Larimore v. Carolina Power &
Light, 531 S.E.2d 535, 538 (S.C. Ct. App. 2000) (citing
Israel v. Carolina Bar-B-Que, Inc., 356 S.E.2d 123,
128 (S.C. Ct. App. 1987)). The landowner has a duty to warn
an invitee only of latent or hidden dangers of which the
landowner is on actual or constructive notice. See H.P.
Larimore, 531 S.E.2d at 538 (citing Callander v.
Charleston Doughnut Corp., 406 S.E.2d 361, 362-63 (S.C.
1991)). To recover damages for injuries caused by a dangerous
or defective condition on a landowner's premises, a
plaintiff must show that (1) the injury was caused by a
specific act of the defendant which created the dangerous
condition, or (2) that the defendant had actual or
constructive knowledge of the dangerous condition and failed
to remedy it. See Wintersteen v. Food Lion, Inc.,
542 S.E.2d 728, 729 (S.C. 2001) (citing Anderson v.
Racetrac Petroleum, Inc., 371 S.E.2d 530 (S.C. 1988)).
“The entire basis of an invitor's liability rests
upon his superior knowledge of the danger that causes the
invitee's injuries. If that superior knowledge is
lacking, as when the danger is obvious, the invitor cannot be
held liable.” H.P. Larimore, 531 S.E.2d at
540. A landowner is not liable for open and obvious dangers
unless the landowner “should anticipate the harm
despite such knowledge or obviousness.” Hancock v.
Mid-South Mgmt. Co., Inc., 673 S.E.2d 801, 803 (S.C.
2009) (citing Callander, 406 S.E.2d at 362).
The Parties' Arguments
claim that Plaintiff has (1) failed to produce any evidence
of negligence and (2) failed to produce any evidence of any
act of omission by Defendants that proximately caused
Plaintiff's injuries. (ECF No. 37 at 1.) Specifically,
Defendants assert that the “mere fact that there is a
difference in levels in different parts of the premises does
not . . . indicate negligence unless, owing to the character,
location[, ] and surrounding condition of the change of
level, a reasonably careful person would not be likely to
expect or see it.” (Id. at 4.) Defendants
contend that “the difference in elevation between the
cart pad and the walkway was clearly visible to anyone
looking in that area . . . [it] was not covered or obscured .
. . [and] clearly a different color than the asphalt walkway,
thereby making the change in elevation clearly visible . . .
.” (Id. at 5.) Furthermore, Defendants claim
that “there is no evidence in the record . . . [of]
either actual or constructive notice that the [cart pad]
could be a hazard to guests.” (Id.)
claims that Defendants owed her a duty to keep the premises
in a reasonably safe condition. (ECF No. 41 at 3.) Plaintiff
asserts that Defendants “violated internal standards,
industry standards, and ADA standards in its
construction” of the cart pad and that “a genuine
issue of material fact exists because the walkway color
design scheme by Defendant[s] conceals the elevation
change.” (Id. at 4, 5.) In addition, Plaintiff
contends that South Carolina law presumes that a ...