Law Review: Slip and fall in retail store
If you slip and fall while shopping or out and about, can you sue the property owner? Of course. You can sue anyone.
The better question is whether you have a credible lawsuit and can prove the property owner is legally responsible.
SLIP AND FALL
Rose Peralta was shopping in 3-4-inch stiletto heels (seriously?) in a Vons grocery store in southern California. Her left foot slid, and she fell, suffering injuries. Rose sued claiming Vons was responsible because she fell on “some sort of oil or grease.” She filled out a customer accident report writing that the floor felt “slippery,” but Rose did not know if there was anything on the floor.
Vons’ assistant store manager Peggy Pellet, summoned to the bakery section where Rose fell, filled out an accident report. Pellet noted she found nothing to cause a slip on the floor and that Vons had performed its periodic store inspections called “sweeps,” at least once an hour, and had just completed a sweep less than eight minutes before Rose fell.
Rose sued for wage loss, medical expenses and loss of earning capacity, while her husband Raul claimed he had suffered damages in the form of loss of consortium which is the right of companionship with Rose.
Vons filed what is called a Motion for Summary Judgment with a declaration from Pellet summarizing her accident report and noting no one else had fallen in the same place, either prior or after her fall.
The trial court threw out Rose’s lawsuit based upon that evidence. Rose appealed and the matter landed before the Second Appellate District which wrote an opinion denying the appeal, favoring Vons.
The Court of Appeal concluded Vons had no notice or prior knowledge of any dangerous condition of the floor and had met its duty of care by performing regular inspections to locate any potential hazards or spills. There was no evidence the floor was wet with water or any other substance (or the classic: an old banana peel).
Vons neither knew nor should have known about the allegedly dangerous condition – the standard of care.
The Court of Appeal added that its ruling was not based solely on the store sweep performed just before the incident.
Jim Porter is an attorney with Porter Simon licensed in California and Nevada, with offices in Truckee and Tahoe City, California, and Reno, Nevada. Jim’s practice areas include: real estate, development, construction, business, HOAs, contracts, personal injury, accidents, mediation and other transactional matters. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or http://www.portersimon.com.
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