Spot the Tort: Parking Garage Hole

A first-year University of Memphis law student sent along this picture from the parking garage where most students park.  The picture came as a follow-up to our class discussion in Torts II of the use of exculpatory clauses by, among others, parking garages.

Exculpatory clauses–which invariably appear on the back of tickets customers receive when they enter a parking garage–operate to relieve negligent actors of liability. Exculpatory clauses generally will be upheld if clearly written, so long as they do not pertain to an essential public  service, such as medical care or education. Courts are split on whether parking garages qualify as essential public service within this rule.

Here the student pointed to two large holes in the concrete on one of the upper-levels where someone has attached, with small fasteners, thin sheets of metal as covers (that’s light shining from the floor below). She noted that “part of the one hole is still exposed where someone’s foot could fall through,” but said it made her even more nervous to think that large cars were depending on the thin sheets for support.

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Andrew Jay McClurg is a law professor whose teaching and research interests include tort law, products liability, legal education, privacy law and firearms policy. He holds the Herbert Herff Chair of Excellence in Law at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law.
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