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Greenwood v. Lowe Chemical Co.

Court of Civil Appeals of Texas, 14th District
428 S.W.2d 358 (1968)


Facts

Charles Greenwood worked for a construction company with a contract to do work on the premises of Lowe Chemical Co. (Lowe) (defendant). Lowe manufactured and recycled chemicals. Its facility had several “scrubbing pits,” open vats of hot water mixed with acid. These pits had no guard rails or covers. The scrubbing pits were adjacent to a device called the “scrubber.” A four-foot concrete walkway separated the scrubber from the two scrubbing pits that flanked it. Greenwood and other construction workers at Lowe were warned about the danger posed by scrubbing pits because of the corrosive chemicals they contained. Greenwood worked on Lowe’s premises for several months. One day Greenwood was asked to bring a 16-foot ladder to the scrubber. As Greenwood carried the ladder, he stepped backward from the walkway into one of the scrubbing pits, then lost his balance and fell entirely into the pit. He died from his burns. Greenwood’s wife, Rebecca Greenwood (plaintiff), sued Lowe for negligence. She argued that Lowe had a duty to protect its invitees, such as construction workers, from extremely hazardous conditions on Lowe’s premises, regardless of whether those dangers were obvious to the invitees. Lowe argued that it had no duty to protect its invitees against open and obvious dangers. Lowe moved for summary judgment. The trial court granted Lowe’s motion. Rebecca Greenwood appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Barron, J.)

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