Premises Liability Case Dismissed for Plaintiff’s Failure to Prove Defendant’s Knowledge of Dangerous Condition

Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a premises liability case brought by a woman who slipped and fell on a piece of watermelon in a grocery store. In the case, Edwards v. Hy-Vee, the court ultimately dismissed the case against the grocery store because the plaintiff was unable to prove that the defendant had knowledge of the dangerous condition prior to her accident. As a result of the case, the plaintiff will be unable to recover damages to help her cover her medical costs and related expenses.

Wet Floor SignThe Facts of the Case

Edwards was with her daughter, shopping at a grocery store owned by Hy-Vee. On her way out of the store, she slipped and fell on what appeared to be a piece of watermelon. Less than 10 feet from where she fell, an employee of Hy-Vee was handing out samples of watermelon.

Edwards filed a premises liability lawsuit against Hy-Vee, arguing that the company either created the dangerous condition that caused her fall or had constructive knowledge of the condition but failed to do anything to remedy it. At trial, the court resolved both arguments in favor of the defendant, and Edwards appealed.

On appeal, the court considered first whether there was any evidence that Hy-Vee caused the dangerous condition. The court was unwilling to say that the store caused the condition merely because its employee handed out the watermelon samples. In fact, the court went as far as to say that the only “reasonable inference” that could be made was that another customer dropped the watermelon on the floor. Thus, the court determined that Hy-Vee did not cause the dangerous condition.

Next, the court considered whether Hy-Vee knew about the watermelon on the floor but failed to clean it up. If this was the case, the grocery store might have been liable. However, the court found that there was a lack of evidence to support a finding that the store knew of the dangerous condition. The court explained that normally a plaintiff provides evidence of how long the dangerous condition existed prior to the accident. However, here, there was no such evidence. There was also no evidence that the dangerous condition was so obvious that a passing employee would have taken notice. Because of this, the court found that there was insufficient evidence to show that Hy-Vee knew of the watermelon but failed to clean it up.

As a result, the plaintiff’s case will not proceed toward trial, and she will be prevented from seeking compensation for her injuries.

Have You Been Injured in a Washington, D.C. Slip-and-Fall Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in any kind of slip-and-fall accident in the Washington, D.C. area, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. It is important to keep in mind that these cases are highly fact-specific, and even if a case sounds similar to the one discussed above, small differences in the facts can result in a completely different verdict. To learn more about premises liability cases in your area, and to speak with a dedicated attorney about your injuries, call 410-654-3600 today to set up a free consultation.

More Blog Posts:

State Court Finds Premises Liability Case against Government Sufficient to Proceed Toward Trial, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, July 20, 2016

Statute of Repose Bars Medical Malpractice Plaintiff’s Case, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, August 2, 2016

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