Recently, a state appellate court issued an interesting opinion in a personal injury case discussing whether the defendant grocery store had a duty to provide staged shopping carts for the use of customers. Ultimately, the court concluded that the store did not have such a duty and did not voluntarily assume a duty by implementing standard operating procedures directing employees to stage carts when they had spare time.
The case presents an important issue that frequently arises in Florida slip-and-fall cases. Specifically, it involves the existence and extent of a duty that a business owes to its customers.
The Facts of the Case
According to the court’s opinion, the defendant grocery store maintains a corral of shopping carts near the store’s entrance. The store employs a greeter whose job it is to stand by the entrance and greet customers. While the greeter’s primary responsibility is to greet customers, the store’s standard operating procedures call for idle greeters to stage shopping carts by dislodging them from one another and loosely nesting them, making it easier for customers to obtain carts.
Evidently, when the plaintiff arrived at the defendant store, there were no staged carts. While the plaintiff was attempting to separate two carts, he slipped and fell, resulting in serious injury. The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the store, claiming that the greeter violated a duty of care that was owed to the plaintiff when she failed to provide a staged shopping cart for his use.
The store presented the testimony of the greeter as well as store management. The greeter testified that she had staged several carts prior to the plaintiff’s arrival, but other customers took the staged carts. The greeter also explained that at the time of the plaintiff’ accident, she was assisting another customer who was in an electric wheelchair. Video from the store’s surveillance system confirmed the greeter’s testimony.
The store manager testified that the greeter’s primary job function was to greet customers and to assist customers in obtaining a cart when they expressed a need for help. The manager acknowledged that the store’s operating procedures called for an idle greeter to stage carts, but explained that this task was secondary to greeting customers.
The court rejected the plaintiff’s claim and granted summary judgment for the store. The court held that the grocery store did not assume a duty to provide all customers with a staged shopping cart merely by suggesting idle greeters stage carts when they have free time.
Even if the store had assumed such a duty, the court held that the evidence did not suggest the greeter’s actions violated it. The court highlighted that the greeter had indeed staged several carts, but that other customers took the carts before the plaintiff arrived. Moreover, the greeter was fulfilling her primary function by greeting another customer who needed her assistance at the time of the plaintiff’s fall. Thus, the court rejected the plaintiff’s arguments and dismissed her claim against the grocery store.
Have You Been Injured in a Florida Slip-and-Fall Accident?
If you or someone you care about has recently been injured in a Florida slip-and-fall accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The dedicated South Florida personal injury lawyers at the law firm of Friedman Rodman & Frank have extensive experience assisting injury victims and their families in the successful pursuit of the compensation they need and deserve. We represent client across Florida in all types of Florida car accident claims, premises liability cases, and instances of medical malpractice. To learn more call 877-448-8585 to schedule a free consultation today.
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