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Public policy implications underlie the law of premises liability. In Vermont, a business owner has a duty 'of active care to make sure that its premises are in safe and suitable condition for its customers.' Debus v. Grand Union Stores 159 Vt. 537, 546, 621 A.2d 1288, 1294 (1993). This duty of care where the defendant's routine business practice creates a foreseeable hazard for its customers. Id.; see also Forcier v. Grand Union Stores Inc. 128 Vt. 389, 394, 264 A.2d 796, 799 (1970) (self-service). The business invitee 'has a right to assume that the premises, aside from obvious dangers, [are] reasonably safe for the purpose for which he [is] upon them, and that proper precaution [has] been taken to make them so.' Garafano v. Neshobe Beach Club, 126 Vt. 566, 572, 238 A.2d 70, 75 (1967). A ski area owes its customers the same duty as any other business -- to keep its premises reasonably safe. Stearns v. Sugarbush Valley Corp., 130 Vt. 472, 474, 296 A.2d 220, 222 (1972).


The policy rationale is to place responsibility for maintenance of the land on those who own or control it, with the ultimate goal ...

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