A Capehart Scatchard Blog

Bowling Alley Found Not Liable for Injury Caused Due to Fall from Wet Substance on Floor

By on June 19, 2015 in Blog with 1 Comment

The plaintiff Veronica Gilmore was bowling with her friends on New Year’s Eve 2009 when she fractured her wrist as a result of a slip and fall after she released her ball and stepped back. She did not notice anything on the floor before she approached the lane, but noticed her clothes were “slimy damp” from an unknown substance after she got up from her fall. She sued the defendant bowling alley for her injuries in Gilmore v. Nationwide Bowling Corp., 2015 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 710 (April 2, 2015 App. Div.)  The trial court dismissed her case and she appealed, claiming that the trial court erred in its decision.

Gilmore claimed that the trial court had erred in ruling that no rational fact-finder could find that she had slipped and fell due to a foreign substance on the floor because the bowling alley allowed beverages in the area of the accident. Further, in this appeal, she claimed that she had offered evidence that the defendant had actual or constructive notice of the foreign substance and failed to remove it to prevent her accident.

As a business invitee, the bowling alley owed the plaintiff a duty to keep the bowling lane free of foreign substances in the lane where she bowled. However, she presented no facts to support her argument that she fell on a foreign substance that was spilled on the floor by one or more messy patrons drinking or carrying beverages in the prohibited area of the bowling alley. She offered no proof as to what she fell on, except her assertion that it was a liquid.

Further, the plaintiff failed to link another bowler’s spilled drink, which was cleaned up one hour before her accident, as the cause of her accident. She likewise failed to offer any evidence that the spill of ice was the cause of her fall.

The Appellate Division noted that the mere occurrence of prior spills does not prove that the defendant was negligent in allowing a foreign substance on plaintiff’ bowling lane and such negligence was a proximate cause of plaintiff’s fall. Plaintiff was not able to offer any proof that the defendant had a reasonable opportunity to discover and clean up the substance that caused her fall. The appeals court found that the plaintiff was speculating as to how the foreign substance got on the floor, that the defendant should have known of its existence, and that the defendant had a reasonable opportunity to clean it up prior to her fall. Thus, the Appellate Division affirmed the trial court’s order, dismissing the complaint.


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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 30 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 2020-2023, 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.

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  1. Jordan says:

    Pretty interesting case! Sometimes even what seems like a typical slip-and-fall case can have interesting results. Thanks for sharing!

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