State Supreme Court Rules Against Woman Injured in Grocery Store Fall

The Nebraska Supreme Court recently released an opinion affirming a district court’s grant of summary judgment for the defendant in a premises liability lawsuit filed by a woman who was injured in a slip-and-fall accident while at a grocery store that was operated by the defendant. The high court agreed with the lower court’s findings that the plaintiff failed to raise a genuine issue of material fact as to each of the elements of a successful premises liability or negligence claim. As a result of the state supreme court’s ruling, the plaintiff will not receive compensation for the injuries she suffered in the accident.

The Plaintiff Slipped on a Piece of Watermelon that Was Left on the Floor

The plaintiff in the case of Edwards v. Hy-Vee was injured as she was leaving the defendant’s store and slipped on what appeared to be a piece of watermelon that was on the floor. According to the facts discussed in the appellate opinion, an employee of the defendant was handing out samples of watermelon approximately six feet from where the plaintiff fell, and the plaintiff noticed a watermelon seed on her shoe after the fall. The plaintiff filed a premises liability lawsuit against the defendant in state district court, seeking compensation for her injuries and alleging that the defendant was responsible for the hazardous condition that caused her to fall, and it was liable for damages as a result.

The District Court Rules in Favor of the Defendant Without a Trial, and the State Supreme Court Agrees

During the preliminary proceedings of the plaintiff’s lawsuit, the defendant filed a motion with the court to dismiss the plaintiff’s case. The defendant argued that the plaintiff presented insufficient evidence for a jury to determine that the store was legally responsible for the watermelon on the floor. The district court granted the defendant’s motion, rejecting the plaintiff’s arguments that the defendant’s distribution of watermelon samples in a high-traffic location was sufficient to support a claim that the defendant created the dangerous condition. Furthermore, the court ruled that the plaintiff did not present any evidence suggesting the defendant knew or should have known of the dangerous condition on the floor before the plaintiff’s fall.

The plaintiff appealed the ruling to the Nebraska Supreme Court, arguing that the defendant created the hazard by permitting the samples to be handed out to customers in the store. The high court rejected the plaintiff’s argument, applying state law to find that without any evidence showing a store employee himself spilled the watermelon (as opposed to a customer who had taken a sample), the plaintiff’s claim that the defendant created the condition could not stand. The plaintiff’s alternative argument that the defendant should have reasonably known watermelon was being dropped on the floor and creating a dangerous condition was also rejected, since the plaintiff presented no evidence that the condition was noticeable or existed for long enough to imply that the defendant was on constructive notice of the hazard.

The Elements of a Successful Florida Premises Liability Claim Against a Business

Businesses in Florida have a duty to ensure that customers or visitors entering their property do not encounter unreasonably dangerous conditions that could lead to an injury. For an injured plaintiff to make a successful Miami premises liability claim, they must prove that the property owner knew or should have known about a dangerous condition, that they failed to repair or warn the plaintiff of the condition, and that the plaintiff was injured by the condition. If a plaintiff is able to prove these elements by a preponderance of the evidence, the defendant will be held accountable for monetary damages related to the plaintiff’s injuries.

Have You Been Injured in a Slip-and-Fall or Other Dangerous Condition?

If you or a loved one has been injured by a dangerous condition while on another person’s property, you may have a claim for damages against the property owner. The Miami premises liability and negligence attorneys at Friedman, Rodman & Frank are familiar with the requirements of a successful South Florida personal injury lawsuit, and we can skillfully handle your claim for the compensation you deserve. At Friedman, Rodman & Frank, we represent clients in premises liability, auto accident, and other negligence cases in the Miami area and throughout South Florida. Contact us to schedule a free consultation with a qualified attorney. Call toll-free at 877-448-8585 or use our online form to set up a meeting today.

More Blog Posts:

Court Permits Wrongful Death Claim to Proceed after Personal Injury Judgment Had Been Awarded Based on Defendant’s Same Negligent Conduct, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published August 4, 2016.

State Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Medical Malpractice Plaintiff’s Attempt to Extend Statute of Limitations, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published July 15, 2016.

Contact Information