Appeal In Superior Court Pertaining to Motions for Summary Judgment in Slip and Fall Case
Docket No. A-3816-21
Decided June 14, 2023
Submitted by New Jersey Personal Injury Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark.
In a recent unpublished opinion, the Appellate Court of New Jersey decided plaintiff’s appeal from an order granting defendant’s motion for summary judgment following the conclusion of discovery.
Plaintiff slipped and fell as he entered defendant’s store while walking toward a hair gel product he intended to purchase. Plaintiff suffered a fractured left tibia and filed a complaint against defendant alleging negligent maintenance of and failure to conduct reasonable inspections of the premises. In his deposition, plaintiff testified that he didn’t notice anything on the floor as he approached the hair gel located on the first shelf as customers entered the store. Plaintiff only noticed a dark greasy spot on the floor after he fell, which he inferred was probably a mixture of dirt, grease and/or hair gel.
Plaintiff retained an expert engineer who inspected the store’s flooring more than one year after the fall. The expert opined that the vinyl tile would “become slippery when exposed to liquids” and should have had a “slip resistant” surface to conform to the “2015 International Building Code, New Jersey Edition.”
After defendant moved for summary judgment following discovery, the trial court granted the motion, ruling that plaintiff had failed to demonstrate defendant had actual or constructive notice of a dangerous condition on its premises. Plaintiff subsequently appealed.
On appeal, plaintiff contended that the motion judge drew all inferences against plaintiff rather than the reverse, and he presented sufficient evidence demonstrating defendant had constructive notice of the condition that caused plaintiff to slip. After considering the arguments of the parties, the Appellate Court of New Jersey ultimately determined plaintiff failed to prove that defendant’s claimed lack of notice of the condition was attributable to its lack of diligence in inspection of the conditions on the premises and affirmed the trial court’s decision. The court articulated that the distinguishable opinion which also involved a slip-and-fall accident in a store that plaintiff relied upon was different than the facts and circumstances surrounding this instant case. In that case, water on the floor was attributable to a strong storm that blew rain inside through the doorway, which would allow a jury to infer the owner was aware of the dangerous condition and its obvious cause. That was not the case here. In this matter, plaintiff could not identify what had caused him to slip and there was no evidence of any nearby source of contamination on the floor. Just identifying the substance as containing “dirt” did not permit a speculative inference that it had been on the floor for such a time that defendant was on constructive notice of a dangerous condition.
At Hark & Hark, we are experienced attorneys who represent clients for appeals in Superior Court for issues like the previously discussed case pertaining to motions for summary judgment in slip and fall cases. We work hard to ensure that our clients receive exceptional representation in order for them to receive the most favorable outcome in their case as a result.
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