Unfortunately, accidents in stores happen all the time in the state of Florida and across the United States. Stores and other commercial places of business have a legal obligation to ensure that the premises are safe for their customers to enter. If the store fails to keep the property in reasonably safe condition, and a customer is injured on the premises, the owner may be liable for any resulting harm. However, premises liability cases are extremely fact-intensive, and the outcome of the case will depend on the specific circumstances of that particular incident.
In Schwartz v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., the Fifth District Court of Appeals denied a plaintiff’s motion for a new trial after a zero-damages jury verdict. The facts of the case are as follows. The plaintiff was shopping at Wal-Mart when she was hit in the back by an ornamental pumpkin. According to court documents, the pumpkin in question weighed approximately 8.5 ounces and was “squishy.” Even before trial, Wal-Mart conceded that the plaintiff was struck by the ornamental pumpkin due to an employee’s negligent behavior. Wal-Mart, however, contested the issues of causation and damages, which are necessary elements of negligence.
Negligence is the failure to take proper care when doing something. Put another way, negligence is the failure to take reasonable care in one’s actions or omissions. Reasonable care is defined as how a prudent person would behave in the same or similar circumstances. In order to prevail on a negligence claim, the plaintiff has to establish the following elements: 1) the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care; 2) the defendant breached the duty of care owed to the plaintiff; 3) the defendant’s breach caused the accident; and 4) the plaintiff suffered quantifiable damages as a result. All four elements have to be met in order to win on a negligence claim. Continue Reading ›