We presented our initial arguments relating to the unambiguous contractual provisions within the landscaping contract between Wilhelm and Sarasota County, along with the deposition of Michael Wilhelm in support of our position that Wilhelm did not have any supervisory or maintenance duties relating to the properties they serviced.
Plaintiff argued that 1) Wilhelm had the responsibility to supervise and maintain the properties they serviced for the safety of pedestrians, 2) Wilhelm so negligently performed their responsibilities under the contract as to impute liability upon themselves, and 3) Wilhelm assumed liability for the safety of pedestrians by entering into a contract with a governmental entity. Further, Plaintiff’s counsel argued that the question of whether the hole in the ground was a potentially open and obvious hazardous condition was a question of material fact and should therefore be put before a jury.
We argued that the language in the landscaping contract and Michael Wilhelm’s deposition testimony show that Wilhelm does not perform inspections, supervision or maintenance for the safety of pedestrians. We also argued that the contract responsibilities were not negligently performed by presenting maintenance logs from the week of the accident proving Wilhelm was on site performing their duties under their contractual conditions. Finally, we put forth case law in support of our position that, while the question as to whether a potentially hazardous condition is an open and obvious is a question of fact, such a question is not so materially an issue as to preclude a party from summary judgment.
Judge Curley took the arguments of both sides under advisement and issued a ruling on October 27, 2015. She held that based on the language in the landscaping contract between Wilhelm and Sarasota County, Wilhelm did not owe a duty of care to Linda Blanning. Consequently, Wilhelm Brother’s Motion for Summary Judgment must be granted.