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Surviving Summary Judgment in a Slip-and-Fall Premises Liability Case

by mjpospis on August 19, 2017

in Articles, Employment Discrimination, Employment Law, Personal Injury, Premises Liability

One frequently-occurring personal injury case is the so-called “slip-and-fall” case, which in turn is a species of “premises liability” claims.

One court[1]Decker v. Middletown Walmart Supercenter Store, No. 15 CIV. 2886 (JCM), 2017 WL 568761 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 10, 2017) recently summarized the law as follows:

In New York, [t]o establish a prima facie case of negligence, a plaintiff must demonstrate (1) a duty owed by the defendant to the plaintiff, (2) a breach thereof, and (3) injury proximately resulting therefrom. … To make out a premises liability case, specifically, a plaintiff must first show the existence of a dangerous or defective condition. … Next, [t]o succeed on a premises liability claim alleging any injury caused by a defective condition, the plaintiff must demonstrate that the [defendant] either created the defective condition, or had actual or constructive notice thereof for such a period of time that, in the exercise of reasonable care, it should have corrected it.

There are many cases evaluating whether, on the evidence presented, a defendant property owner was entitled to summary judgment dismissing the plaintiff’s slip-and-fall negligence claim.[2]On a motion for summary judgment, different standards apply under federal (Fed. R. Civ. P. 56) and New York (CPLR 3212) law.

“In a premises liability case, a defendant property owner, or a party in possession or control of real property, who moves for summary judgment has the initial burden of making a prima facie showing that it neither created the alleged defective condition nor had actual or constructive notice of its existence.” Kyte v. Mid-Hudson Wendico, 2015 NY Slip Op 06419 [131 AD3d 452] (App. Div. 2d Dept. Aug. 5, 2015); Maus v. Hannaford Bros. Co., 105 A.D.3d 1015, 1016, 963 N.Y.S.2d 405, 406 (App. Div. 2d Dept. April 24, 2013).

“A defendant has constructive notice of a dangerous condition when the condition is visible and apparent, and has existed for a sufficient length of time before the accident such that it could have been discovered and corrected[.]”  Valdes v. Pepsi-Cola Bottling Co. of New York, 150 A.D.3d 926, 54 N.Y.S.3d 436, 437–38 (N.Y. App. Div. 2d Dept. May 10, 2017).

In Valdes (in which plaintiff alleged that she slipped and fell on liquid on the floor of a cafeteria operated by the defendant), the court affirmed the denial of defendant’s motion for summary judgment, pointing to the fact that “the deposition testimony of the cafeteria supervisor, which only referred to general cleaning practices and did not establish when, prior to the subject accident, the area was last cleaned or inspected, failed to demonstrate that the alleged condition existed for an insufficient amount of time for it to have been remedied.”

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1. Decker v. Middletown Walmart Supercenter Store, No. 15 CIV. 2886 (JCM), 2017 WL 568761 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 10, 2017
2. On a motion for summary judgment, different standards apply under federal (Fed. R. Civ. P. 56) and New York (CPLR 3212) law.

Categories: Articles, Employment Discrimination, Employment Law, Personal Injury, Premises Liability

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