According to a recent news report from the Florida Record, a woman has just filed a lawsuit against a major big box retailer for an alleged slip-and-fall accident. The incident listed in the complaint is alleged to have occurred in at a store in Orlando, Florida. The store manager and the corporation were listed as defendants in this Orlando personal injury lawsuit.
Specifically, plaintiff alleges she slipped and fell while shopping at the store. She further alleged she slipped on what she is calling a transitory foreign substance that was on the floor. The basis for negligence is that store employees, and ultimately store management, failed to clean up the transitory substance in a timely manner or place warning placards on the floor, and this is what caused her accident.
As our Orlando slip-and-fall attorneys can explain, pursuant to Florida Statute 768.0755, the law has specific requirements for a plaintiff to succeed in a premises liability action for transitory foreign substances at a business location. First, it would helpful to identify a transitory substance, which, under well-settled Florida law, is essentially any liquid or other substance on the floor in a location where it doesn’t belong. This includes a liquid, but it can also be a solid.
Our court first defined this term in a case where a woman claimed she fell when she slipped on a ripe banana that was not in a peel at a Publix supermarket. This case, which ultimately went to trial and had a footnote defining the term transitory substance, has been utilized by many courts and attorneys since that case was heard. We have seen cases where water has been listed as transitory foreign substance, as has oil, grease, frozen vegetables, rotting fruit, and many other things found on the floors of various retail establishments in our state over the years.
As for the requirements of the Florida statutes, in order to get a case before the jury, there must be a showing that if the allegations are true, defendant had actual or constructive knowledge of the substance being on the floor, and that they should have been able to fix the problem. To find constructive knowledge, it must be shown that the substance was on the floor long enough for the store to have found it or should have found it based upon how business is ordinarily conducted. For example, at many retail stores, employees are supposed to patrol their assigned areas for any issues, such as spills, at certain intervals to prevent such an injury from occurring.
Alternatively, it could be a condition that occurs frequently, and the business should have known about it and failed to remedy it. For example, if a freezer is broken and frequently leaks water on the floor, store management should not allow water to collect where a customer could slip on it. It is also noted that this statute, while specific, does not supersede any common law duty owed to customers of a particular business or in a particular situation that has been created through case law.
Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.
Woman files suit against Walmart store, manager after slip-and-fall incident, June 15, 2017, By Jenie Mallari-Tores, Florida Record
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Grocery Store Slip-and-Fall Verdict to Stand, March 21, 2017, Orlando Slip-and-Fall Accident Attorney Blog