Doubletree, Inc. v. Schanley

Decision Date11 June 1997
Docket NumberNo. A97A0329,A97A0329
Citation487 S.E.2d 506,226 Ga.App. 776
Parties, 97 FCDR 2280 DOUBLETREE, INC. et al. v. SCHANLEY et al.
CourtGeorgia Court of Appeals

Shivers & Associates, Wayne C. Wilson, Atlanta, for appellants.

Jonathan P. Sexton, Conyers, for appellees.


Defendants Doubletree and DT Management (collectively "Doubletree") appeal from the $45,000 judgment entered on the jury's verdict in this premises liability case, contending the court erred in denying their motion for directed verdict.

" 'A directed verdict is proper only "(i)f there is no conflict in the evidence as to any material issue and the evidence introduced, with all reasonable deductions therefrom, shall demand a particular verdict(.)" OCGA § 9-11-50(a).' [Cit.] 'In determining whether any conflict in the evidence exists, the court must construe the evidence most favorably to the party opposing the motion for directed verdict. The standard used to review the grant or denial of a directed verdict is the "any evidence" test. (Cit.)' [Cit.]" Grubb v. Woodglenn Properties, 220 Ga.App. 902, 903(1), 470 S.E.2d 455 (1996).

Schanley, a chef, went to Doubletree's hotel to attend a seminar on carving ice sculptures and was a registered guest of the hotel. The seminar, which began about 8:00 a.m. with demonstrations of ice cutting, was held at the hotel's loading dock, and Schanley arrived there about 7:45. Around 11:00 the seminar participants set up individual work stations to do their own ice sculptures.

Schanley placed his work station six to eight feet away from the end of a row of stored, unused ice blocks. The blocks were four and one-half feet tall and weighed four hundred pounds each. As Schanley was working on his sculpture at about 11:30, one of the blocks three or four rows back fell, creating a domino effect that knocked over the last block, breaking Schanley's ankle.

The loading dock was not refrigerated and the proper method of storing ice blocks would have been to place each on a wooden pallet to help prevent it from moving, but these blocks were not so stored. A safe distance to work from such a block of ice was the height of the block plus two or three feet. The hotel's executive chef affirmed the location to a local professional organization for its seminar. The instructor was not an employee of Doubletree. The chef was not aware of any safety precautions or inspections taken by the hotel, even though he knew that ice blocks could become unstable after sitting for hours on the concrete floor. He was present when the ice delivery was made but did not supervise the unloading or instruct any hotel employees to ensure its safety. During the seminar Schanley saw some hotel employees, but none inspected the ice blocks.

Doubletree does not dispute that it had a nondelegable obligation to keep its premises safe, see OCGA § 51-3-1, but contends there was no evidence it had any knowledge of the danger superior to Schanley's own. " ' " 'The true ground of liability is the proprietor's superior knowledge of the perilous instrumentality and the danger therefrom to persons going upon the property. It is when the perilous instrumentality is known to the owner ... and not known to the person injured that a recovery is permitted.' (Emphasis in original.) (Cit.)" (Cit.)' [Cit.]." Westbrook v. M & M Supermarkets, 203 Ga.App. 345(1), 416...

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4 cases
  • Witty v. McNeal Agency, Inc.
    • United States
    • Georgia Court of Appeals
    • August 10, 1999
    ...requires the affirmance of the trial court. McCannon v. McCannon, 231 Ga.App. 601(1), 499 S.E.2d 684 (1998); Doubletree, Inc. v. Schanley, 226 Ga.App. 776, 487 S.E.2d 506 (1997). 5. Plaintiffs contend that the trial court erred in admitting speculative and incompetent evidence of defendants......
    • United States
    • Georgia Court of Appeals
    • May 13, 2003
    ...omitted.) In re Burton, 271 Ga. 491, 493(1), 521 S.E.2d 568 (1999). 3. (Citations and punctuation omitted.) Doubletree, Inc. v. Schanley, 226 Ga.App. 776-777, 487 S.E.2d 506 (1997). 4. (Citations omitted.) Brack v. Brownlee, 246 Ga. 818, 822, 273 S.E.2d 390 5. See Panfel v. Boyd, 187 Ga.App......
  • McCannon v. McCannon, A98A0592.
    • United States
    • Georgia Court of Appeals
    • March 10, 1998
    ...the grant or denial of a directed verdict is the any evidence test." (Citation and punctuation omitted.) Doubletree, Inc. v. Schanley, 226 Ga.App. 776, 487 S.E.2d 506 (1997). In evaluating the sufficiency of evidence regarding damages, "[t]he ability to estimate damages to a reasonable cert......
  • Yull v. State, A97A0270
    • United States
    • Georgia Court of Appeals
    • June 11, 1997

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