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Tennessee Court Denies Grocery Store’s Motion for Summary Judgment in Premises Liability Case

The Western District of Tennessee has found that a customer is entitled to pursue her personal injury claim against a grocery store at trial.  In Jackson v. Kroger Ltd. Partnership I, a woman and her mother visited a Tennessee grocery store. While shopping, the woman was apparently injured when she slipped and fell on a clear liquid that was on the floor. After the woman fell, a store security guard helped the woman get up off the floor. According to the injured shopper, the security guard told her that he asked another grocery store employee to clean up the spill prior to the incident. The customer later filed a premises liability lawsuit against the grocery store.

Prior to trial, the store claimed that it had no knowledge of the purported spill. In addition, the grocery store argued that the injured woman could not prove how long the liquid was on the floor before she fell or that any of the store’s workers knew the spill occurred. Because of this, the store filed a motion for summary judgment in the case. In general, a motion for summary judgment may only be granted in situations where there are no material facts in dispute and one party is clearly entitled to judgment in his or her favor based upon the law. A court that is considering such a motion must construe any evidence offered in favor of the non-moving party.

The grocery store asserted it was entitled to judgment because the customer failed to demonstrate the business had actual or constructive knowledge that the allegedly dangerous condition existed before she fell. The injured woman countered by stating there was a question of fact regarding the grocery store’s knowledge of the spill. She claimed that her mother’s affidavit, which stated the security guard admitted he was aware of and reported the spill to a business employee, called the store’s actual knowledge into question. The customer added that the high number of previous slip and fall incidents that recently took place at the grocery store indicated the business owner had constructive knowledge that a dangerous condition existed on the property.

According to the court, a property owner in Tennessee has a duty to exercise reasonable care to ensure a business property is reasonably safe for invitees. Despite this, the court said a property owner is not an insurer of each visitor’s safety. In order to prevail on such a claim, a premises liability plaintiff must demonstrate that the owner of a property where his or her injury took place either caused or had notice of the dangerous condition.

Since the plaintiff offered evidence to support her claim that the grocery store had actual notice of the slippery spill, the Western District of Tennessee held that a question of fact existed in the case. Because of this, the court stated the grocery store was not entitled to judgment as a matter of law and denied the store’s motion for summary judgment without reaching the injured woman’s claim that the grocer also had constructive notice of the purportedly dangerous condition.

The experienced lawyers at the Hartsoe Law Firm, P.C. assist individuals in Eastern Tennessee who were injured as a result of a property owner’s failure to exercise reasonable care. To speak with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney about your case, call the Hartsoe Law Firm, P.C. at (865) 524-5657 or contact us through our website today.

Additional Resources:

Jackson v. Kroger Ltd. Partnership I, Dist. Court, WD Tennessee 2014

Related Blog Posts:

Tennessee Appeals Court Affirms Damages Award in Rear-End Collision Case, December 15, 2014, Knoxville Injury Lawyer Blog

Negligent Head-On Semi-Truck Crash Near Caryville Tragically Kills One and Injures Three, September 3, 2014, Knoxville Injury Lawyer Blog


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