By: Kevin L. Connors, Esquire
Recently, the Pennsylvania Superior Court, in a Memorandum Opinion issued on June 16, 2016, affirmed a nonsuit granted by the Trial Court in a premises liability negligence lawsuit brought by a store customer who alleged that she was injured when she slipped and fell on a Red Bull beverage can left in a checkout aisle.
Alleging premises liability against Giant Food Stores, the store customer alleged that Giant should have had sufficient notice that the beverage can was lying on the floor, that it was dangerous, and that it could cause injury to store customers, such that it should have been liable for the store customer’s injuries from her slip and fall accident.
At trial, the Trial Court granted Giant’s Motion for Nonsuit, finding that the Plaintiff had failed to produce evidence demonstrating that the dangerous condition, being the can lying on the checkout aisle floor, was created through the actions of Giant, or that Giant had sufficient notice that the condition was present, and that it failed to conduct a reasonable inspection to discover it.
Affirming the Trial Court’s nonsuit against the store customer, the Superior Court held that the nonsuit was appropriate where the store customer’s husband testified that the beverage can was not in the checkout aisle when his wife left the aisle to get another merchandise item, also testifying that he believed that another customer might have knocked the beverage can to the floor, although he did not specifically witness that occurring.
With the Trial Court finding that the beverage can ended up on the checkout aisle floor through no action or omission of Giant Foods, nor because of an alleged failure to inspect, or through any issue of alleged mis-proper stocking, the Trial Court holding was affirmed by the Superior Court, finding that the beverage can most likely ended up on the checkout aisle floor through the inadvertent actions of a third party, which actions should not necessarily create or impose liability against Giant Foods.
No less true, the Trial Court found that the trial evidence indicated that the condition of the beverage can being on the checkout aisle floor existed for such a short period of time that Giant, through the exercise of reasonable care, most likely could not have known that the can was on the floor.
The Pennsylvania Superior Court Memorandum Opinion was authored by Justice Stabile.
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