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September 21, 2006

Falling From Top Bunk An Obvious Risk

A Stockton State College student, startled awake by his pager and his roommate's yelling, fell from a top bunk bed in his dorm room and dislocated his shoulder.  He sued the loft bed manufacturer and prevailed at trial on a failure to warn theory, recovering $179,001 in damages.  He claimed that, if he'd been warned about the risks of falling out of a bed placed six feet above the floor, he would have slept closer to the wall.  Can sharp knives cut you?  Will hot coffee burn you?  Which risks are sufficiently obvious to 21-year-old college seniors so that no warning of such risks is required?  A three-judge panel of the Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey concluded that risk of falling out of this bed was so obvious that no warning was required as a matter of law.  "The risks are so obvious here," said the court, "that we fail to see what a college student would or could have done differently while asleep to protect himself from falling, or what a warning could have advised in addition to the obvious.

JDP

September 21, 2006 | Permalink

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