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Appellate Division Finds that Constructive Notice an Issue for Fall on Clear Liquid Near Store Checkout Counter

By on November 19, 2021 in Court Rulings with 0 Comments

Plaintiff Shirley Broadnax suffered injuries when she slipped and fell on clear liquid on the floor at a supermarket owned by the defendant AJS Supermarkets. The trial judge had granted summary judgment to the defendant on the basis that the Plaintiff failed to show that the defendant had actual or constructive notice of the “dangerous condition.” The issue upon appeal in Broadnax v. AJS Supermarkets, LLC, 2021 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 2605 (App. Div. Nov. 5, 2021) was whether there could be constructive notice of the condition due to an employee walking by the spill just before the plaintiff’s accident.

The store had a video of the accident. It showed that about one minute before plaintiff fell, a bottle of liquid fell from another exiting customer’s shopping cart, spilling clear liquid on the floor. The customer, unaware of the incident, left the store. Within a minute after the spill, two other customers also exited near the spill, apparently unaware of the liquid on the floor. Then a store employee also walked near the spill “but either chose to ignore it or did not notice it before leaving the area. Seconds later, plaintiff slipped on the liquid and fell.”

The Appellate Division found that this video was sufficient proof to present a question of fact to the jury to decide whether the employee should have seen the liquid and then followed the store policy to secure the area. There was no deposition testimony or certification from the employee as to what he saw prior to the plaintiff’s fall. The Court did not agree with the trial judge who determined from viewing the video footage that “it was unreasonable to conclude the employee should have seen the spilled material in the circumstances.” Rather, the Appellate Division ruled that this issue was a question for the jury to decide. Thus, the summary judgment order dismissing the complaint was reversed for the case to proceed to trial.

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About the Author

About the Author:

Ms. Ramos is an Executive Committee Member and Co-Chair of the Litigation Department at Capehart Scatchard, P.A. located in Mount Laurel, New Jersey. She is an experienced litigator with over 25 years experience handling diverse matters. Practice areas include tort defense, business litigation, estate litigation, tort claims and civil rights defense, construction litigation, insurance coverage, employment litigation, shareholder disputes, and general litigation.

For the years 2020 and 2021, Ms. Ramos was selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© in the practice area of Litigation - Insurance. The attorneys on this list are selected based upon the consensus opinion of leading lawyers about the professional abilities of their colleagues within the same geographical area and legal practice area. A complete description of The Best Lawyers in America© methodology can be viewed via their website at: https://www.bestlawyers.com/methodology.

In 2021, Capehart Scatchard and Ms. Ramos received the “Best Law Firm” ranking in the area of Litigation – Insurance (Metro, Tier 3) published by U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers®. Law firms included on the list are recognized for professional excellence with consistently impressive ratings from clients and peers. To be eligible for a ranking, a firm must have at least one attorney who has been included in the current edition of Best Lawyers in America, which recognizes the top five percent of practicing lawyers in the United States. Betsy Ramos (Litigation – Insurance) was recognized for this prestigious award in the 2021 edition. For a description of the “Best Law Firm” selection methodology please visit: https://bestlawfirms.usnews.com/methodology.aspx.

“Best Law Firms” is published by Best Lawyers in partnership with U.S. News & World Report. For a description of the selection methodology please visit: https://bestlawfirms.usnews.com/methodology.aspx.

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