Justices find Orange County Building Materials did not owe duty to warn man who tripped on boards

By Charmaine Little | Feb 8, 2019

BEAUMONT – On Feb. 7, summary judgment for Orange County Building Materials Inc. was affirmed in an appeals court despite Arthur Simpson Jr.’s argument that he presented enough evidence to prove OCBM had a responsibility to issue a warning about any possible risks before he tripped and fell.

Simpson appealed the decision from the 260th District Court in Orange County with the Court of Appeals in the 9th District of Texas at Beaumont alleging OCBM should not have been granted summary judgment. 

The Appeals Court backed OCBM’s argument that “the summary judgment should be affirmed because as a matter of law the stacked boards that Simpson tripped on did not create an unreasonably dangerous condition and OCBM owed no duty to warn or make safe the alleged danger…,” Justice Leanne Johnson wrote in the ruling.

OCBM didn’t owe this warning because the stacked boards were out in the open and obvious, not hidden, and Simpson knew of any possible risks when he walked over the boards on OCBM premises. He had just bought a pipe from the Bridge City store in 2014 and was in the loading area when he fell. He subsequently filed a lawsuit over allegations of negligence.

"Simpson alleged that there were no signs in or around the area to warn of 'the dangerous condition which existed due to excessive building materials strewn in the area,'" the ruling states.

In affirming the summary judgment, the Appeals Court pointed out that Simpson, during his testimony, said he didn’t have any problem in seeing the boards in front of him, but didn’t realize that one board was higher than the others. While he did try to use the “necessary use” argument, the Appeals Court said that only applies when an invitee has no choice but to adhere to any dangerous conditions, or if the landowner was able to foresee any danger.

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