Recently, a Florida appellate court issued an opinion in a plaintiff’s appeal stemming from a premises liability lawsuit. The case arose after a customer spilled laundry detergent near a checkout counter at a Dollar General. A store manager and employee were working at the register when the spill occurred. The manager went to get cleaning supplies and left the employee to assist customers in checking out. About a minute later, the plaintiff entered the store and slipped on the detergent, sustaining serious injuries.
The plaintiff argued that the defendant was negligent because they did not safely maintain their premises or warn him of potential hazards. The defendant moved for summary judgment claiming that it did not breach its duty because there was not enough time between the spill and fall to remedy the hazard.
Under Florida law, courts reviewing summary judgment motions must draw all inferences in favor of the plaintiff against whom the order is sought. Courts can only grant these motions when there are no disputes regarding any genuine issues of material fact. In instances where a defendant moves for summary judgment, the defendant must show that it did not breach any duty to the plaintiff. In Florida, business owners owe a duty to maintain their premises in a safe condition and warn customers of any dangers it knew about, or should have known about.
Here, the court first analyzed whether the business had a duty to maintain their premises. Finding that there was a duty in place, the court then went on to discuss whether the store breached that duty. The court found that the defendant did not breach its duty because the manager did not have enough time to clean up the hazard from the time she discovered it and the plaintiff’s fall. The court concluded that less than a minute was not a sufficient opportunity to remedy the spill. Therefore, the court affirmed the summary judgment motion on the failure-to-maintain issue.
However, concerning the duty to warn issue, the court found that there was a genuine issue of material fact regarding the trial court’s finding that the defendant did not have a sufficient opportunity to warn of the danger. The store manager testified that she should have notified other employees of the patch of detergent, so that they could warn customers of the area. If she had done so, an employee could have blocked off the area, preventing the plaintiff’s injuries. As such, the court reversed the trial court’s finding on this issue, and remanded the case for further proceedings.
Have You Suffered Injuries in a Florida Slip and Fall?
If you or someone you know suffered injuries at a Florida store or business, contact the Law Offices of Robert Dixon. The attorneys at our law firm have significant experience advocating on behalf of Florida slip and fall victims. We understand the toll that these accidents can have on your livelihood, and we work to ensure that responsible parties are held accountable. Dixon Law Firm clients have recovered substantial amounts of compensation for their injuries and damages. Contact our office at 877-499-4878 to schedule a free initial consultation with an experienced Florida injury attorney at our law firm.