Court of Appeals of Ohio, Second District, Montgomery
CLIFFORD REEVES, et al. Plaintiffs-Appellants
ST. LEONARD, et al. Defendants-Appellees
Appeal from Common Pleas Court T.C. NO. 16-CV-1736
G. DURDEN, Attorney for Plaintiff-Appellants.
JESSICA PRATT, Attorney for Defendants-Appellees.
1} Clifford and Deborah Reeves appeal from a
judgment of the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas,
which granted summary judgment to St. Leonard, Franciscan
Living Communities, and The Franciscan at St. Leonard's
(collectively, "the St. Leonard Defendants"). For
the following reasons, the trial court's judgment will be
Background and Procedural History
2} Between November 2014 and April 2015, Clifford
Reeves was a member of The Franciscan Center, a fitness
center at St. Leonard's residential community, and he
attended two or three times per week to participate in yoga
classes. At 12:50 p.m. on April 9, 2015, Reeves arrived at
The Franciscan Center for a 1:00 p.m. yoga class. Reeves
entered the front door, walked across the short (approximate
four feet) carpeted area to the front desk in the lobby area,
and signed in. Reeves then walked past the front desk and
toward the hallway to get to the yoga class. As Reeves
stepped off the carpet onto the hardwood flooring, he slipped
and fell. At the time of Reeves's fall, an employee,
Brandy Gillispie, was mopping the floor in the large lobby
area. Reeves had noticed Gillispie, but had not seen any
"wet floor" signs.
3} Several individuals came to Reeves's aid
after his fall. Reeves was transported to the hospital by
ambulance. He apparently suffered serious injuries to his
right knee, right hip, right shoulder, head, and back.
4} In April 2016, the Reeveses brought a personal
injury action against the St. Leonard Defendants. The St.
Leonard Defendants subsequently filed a motion for summary
judgment, arguing that (1) Reeves was aware that the floor
was being mopped and (2) an employee had placed adequate
warning signs notifying Reeves of the danger of wet floors.
The St. Leonard Defendants supported their motion with the
deposition transcripts of Reeves and Gillispie and the
affidavits of Janis Loomis, another participant in the yoga
class, and Jack Harless, Director of Wellness at The
5} The Reeveses opposed the motion, arguing that
attendant circumstances caused him not to see the "wet
floor signs and that Gillispie created a hazard that caused
his injuries. Reeves attached unauthenticated photographs of
the lobby area, his own affidavit, and the affidavit of his
6} On February 10, 2017, the trial court granted the
St. Leonard Defendants' summary judgment motion. The
trial court described the issue before it as "whether
Mr. Reeves himself was aware of the hazard posed by the wet
floor and/or Defendants adequately discharged their
obligations to warn Mr. Reeves of that hazard, thus making
the floor's hazardous condition open and obvious."
The trial court rejected Reeves's claim that attendant
circumstances existed to reduce his care, stating that Reeves
had provided "no specifics" as to anything that may
have distracted his attention from the freshly mopped floor.
The trial court further concluded that the hazard posed by
the wet floor was open and obvious, reasoning that Reeves had
seen Gillispie mopping the floor before he fell and there was
no genuine issue of material fact that visible "wet
floor signs were in place prior to Reeves's fall. The
trial court found "not well taken" Reeves's
attempts to "discredit" the testimony of Loomis and
Gillispie that "wet floor" signs were in close
proximity to where Reeves fell.
7} The Reeveses appeal from the trial court's
Summary Judgment Standard
8} Pursuant to Civ.R. 56(C), summary judgment is
proper when (1) there is no genuine issue as to any material
fact, (2) the moving party is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law, and (3) reasonable minds, after construing the
evidence most strongly in favor of the nonmoving party, can
only conclude adversely to that party. Zivich v. Mentor
Soccer Club, Inc.,82 Ohio St.3d 367, 369-370, 696
N.E.2d 201 (1998). The moving party carries the initial
burden of affirmatively demonstrating that no genuine issue
of material fact remains to be litigated. Mitseff v.
Wheeler,38 Ohio St.3d 112, 115, 526 N.E.2d 798 (1988).
To this end, the movant must be able to point to ...