Last month, an appellate court in Alabama issued a written opinion in a premises liability case brought by a man who allegedly slipped and fell while approaching the counter at a fast food restaurant. The court reversed a lower court’s decision that had dismissed the plaintiff’s case, based on the fact that the hazardous condition on which the plaintiff slipped was open and obvious.
The plaintiff was a customer at the defendant fast food restaurant. As the plaintiff entered the restaurant, he first went to the restroom to wash his hands. As he was exiting the restroom, he claims that he slipped and fell on an “oily” substance that was on the floor. After his fall, he got in line to order food. However, when he reached the front of the line, he was reportedly “delusional” and left without ordering. He later filed a premises liability lawsuit against the restaurant.
The restaurant asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit based on two grounds. First, the restaurant claimed that the plaintiff was not truthful. The restaurant presented videos showing a man who appeared to be the plaintiff slipping near the cash register but not falling. When confronted with this video, the plaintiff explained that the slip on the video was not the instance in which he fell but was another instance in which he just slipped.
The restaurant also argued that the hazardous condition on which the plaintiff slipped was open and obvious. The restaurant again referenced surveillance video footage showing an employee mopping the floor in front of the cash register at around the same time that the plaintiff reported slipping. The trial court granted the restaurant’s motion for summary judgment, based on the fact that the hazard was open and obvious.
The Appellate Court’s Ruling
On appeal, the case was reversed in favor of the plaintiff. The court explained that, while the plaintiff’s testimony could be viewed to be inconsistent with the video, it could also be consistent with the video. According to the plaintiff, his fall occurred immediately outside the restroom, rather than in front of the cash register where the video camera was focused.
The court also rejected the restaurant’s argument that the hazard was open and obvious. The court explained that the freshly mopped floor was immediately in front of the cash register, but the plaintiff claims to have fallen outside the restroom. The restaurant did not explain why there was no video footage outside the restroom, and absent video footage showing otherwise, it was possible that there was another hazard outside the restroom that caused the plaintiff’s fall.
Have You Been Injured in a Washington, D.C. Slip-and-Fall Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Washington, D.C. slip-and-fall accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a premises liability lawsuit. The skilled personal injury attorneys at the Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers have decades of collective experience representing victims against negligent property owners. Call 410-654-3600 today to schedule your free consultation with a personal injury attorney.
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