Court Reverses Summary Judgment Motion in Florida Slip and Fall Case

In a recent appellate case, a plaintiff appealed a trial court’s final judgment order entered against him in favor of defendants in the Florida slip and fall claim. According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff filed a negligence lawsuit against a plasma-donation center (the Center) after slipping and falling in the defendant’s bathroom. Evidently, while the plaintiff was at the Center, he went to use the bathroom, as he pushed the door open and took a few steps onto the floor, he fell. He told the receptionist about his fall and asked her to call emergency responders. The defendants created an incident report which described the man’s fall and indicated that the Center’s supervisor checked the bathroom floor and did not see any liquid.

During a deposition, the man testified that he does not remember seeing a wet floor until after he fell but that he remembers slipping and falling forward, as if someone pushed him. When he was on the floor, he saw something that resembled a cup of water and a couple of muddy footprints. The medical supervisor testified that he did not remember how much time elapsed between the incident and inspection, and the Center did not have a schedule for inspecting the bathrooms.

The defendants moved for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiff’s contention of seeing wet footprints was not enough to overcome the motion. In response, the plaintiff argued that his testimony regarding the appearance of the substance in combination with the defendant’s Centers testimony concerning the lack of inspections created a genuine issue of material fact.

Under Florida law, the party moving for summary judgment must prove that there are no genuine issues of material fact that need to be resolved. The evidence that the party provides must be conclusive and enough to overcome all reasonable inferences that may be drawn in favor of the other party. In Florida premises liability cases, business owners have two primary duties which are to (1) take reasonable steps to keep its premises safe; and (2) to warn of dangers that are known or should have been known to the owner.

Further, Florida Statutes section 768.0710 (2) governs slip and falls from transitory foreign substances. The statute provides that plaintiffs must prove that:

  1. the entity in control of the business owed a duty to the victim,
  2. the entity acted negligently by failing to exercise reasonable care in warning, inspecting, or maintaining the business premises and;
  3. the failure to exercise care was the cause of the damages.

The plaintiffs must also prove that the entity had actual or constructive knowledge of the dangerous condition. To meet this requirement, plaintiffs can show that:

  1. the condition existed for a length of time that the business owner should have known about it; or
  2. the condition occurred regularly and was therefore foreseeable.

Here, the plaintiff asserts that the dirty water cup, muddy footprints, skid mark, and lack of inspections, established a genuine issue of material fact about whether the defendants should have known about the water on the floor. The court found that the evidence did not foreclose the possibility that the foreign substance was on the floor for an extended period. Further, the evidence suggests that the defendants did not regularly engage in inspections of their facility. Taking this evidence into consideration, the court ultimately reversed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment and remanded the case.

Have You Suffered Injuries in a Florida Slip and Fall Accident?

If you or someone you know has suffered serious injuries in a Florida slip and fall accident, you should contact the attorneys at Frankl Kominsky. The attorneys at our law firm have extensive experience successfully resolving Florida negligence cases on behalf of injury victims. Our lawyers have an in-depth and up-to-date understanding of relevant Florida personal injury laws and use that knowledge to strategically and effectively represent our clients. We have recovered substantial compensation on behalf of Florida injury victims including payments for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Contact our office at 561-609-1948 to schedule a free consultation with an experienced attorney at our law firm.

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