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Blevins v. Green Acres Mobilehome Park, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Sixth District, Fulton

May 25, 2018

Michelle L. Blevins Appellant
Green Acres Mobilehome Park, Inc., et al. Appellees

          Trial Court No. 15CV000129

          C.William Bair, for appellant.

          D.Casey Talbott, Sarah E. Stephens and Matthew A. Cunningham, for appellees.



         {¶ 1} Appellant, Michele Blevins, appeals the judgment of the Fulton County Court of Common Pleas, granting summary judgment to appellees, Green Acres Mobilehome Park, Inc., and Moses Williamson, [1] on appellant's claims for negligence. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

         I. Facts and Procedural Background

         {¶ 2} The facts taken from the complaint and appellant's deposition are as follows. Appellant was a resident at appellees' mobile home park. She claims that she was injured as a result of three separate acts of negligence by appellees.

         {¶ 3} The first incident occurred on August 24, 2013. The property manager at that time, Susan Wilczynski, now deceased, had asked appellant to help trim the weeds near the pond. Appellant was not paid for her help, but instead was doing it as a favor because her boyfriend was friends with Susan. Appellant testified at her deposition that as she was trimming the weeds, Susan approached her from behind on a riding lawnmower. When she was about six to eight feet away, Susan yelled appellant's name to get her attention. Appellant testified that when Susan yelled her name it startled her, and caused her to shift her weight. When appellant shifted her weight, her foot sank down in the mud in the bank of the pond, which injured her right ankle.

         {¶ 4} Appellant did not notify Susan of the injury at the time, but instead followed Susan approximately 100 yards to where Susan's boyfriend Matt was trimming a tree. The second incident occurred during the tree trimming process. Appellant testified that she was asked to hold a rope that was tied to a branch, to keep the branch from hitting Matt as he trimmed the tree. According to appellant, the branches were 25 to 30 feet long. Appellant, based on her own tree-cutting experience, immediately recognized that this was a job that should be done by professionals, and initially refused to help. Appellant testified that as she was walking away, Susan threatened her by stating "Don't forget who paid your rent." Appellant acquiesced and returned to help.

         {¶ 5} While holding the rope, appellant's hands became raw and bloody, and she told Susan that she could not continue unless she had gloves and better shoes. However, no gloves or shoes were provided. To relieve the pressure on her hands, appellant, of her own accord, then tied the rope in a knot around a tree limb, placed the limb on the ground, and then stood on the limb to keep it from moving. While appellant was standing on the limb, a branch that Matt cut caused the rope to jerk, thereby injuring both of appellant's feet. Notably, appellant did not realize that her feet were injured until later that afternoon or evening.

         {¶ 6} The third incident occurred on January 8, 2014. On that day, Susan asked appellant to use a snow blower to remove some snow from around the mailboxes at the mobile home park. Appellant testified that the snow blower did not have enough gas, and at Susan's direction, appellant filled the snow blower with her own gas. While pouring the gas into the snow blower, appellant shifted her weight to her left foot, and in so doing broke a bone in her foot.

         {¶ 7} Finally, at her deposition, appellant alleged that the negligent acts of appellees caused her further injury in July 2016, when appellant passed out and fell, hurting her left knee. Appellant stated that she passed out because of a heart condition, and that the heart condition arose from her extended use of a non-smoking medication, which was recommended to her by her physician on the basis that she would be healthier with regard to her feet if she stopped smoking, and her feet were originally injured by appellees' negligence.

         {¶ 8} On June 18, 2015, appellant filed the present complaint against appellees, alleging that appellees' negligence caused her injuries. On July 31, 2017, appellees moved for summary judgment, arguing that even if it could be shown that appellees owed appellant a duty of ordinary care, there is no evidence that appellees breached that duty, or that any breach proximately caused appellant's injuries. Appellant opposed the motion for summary judgment, arguing that appellees failed to maintain the premises in a fit and habitable condition, and further committed negligence when Susan startled appellant while she was trimming the weeds, and when Susan failed to give appellant the necessary equipment when trimming the tree and using the snow blower. On August 28, 2017, the trial court entered its judgment granting summary judgment in favor of appellees.

         {ΒΆ 9} II. ...

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