A Capehart Scatchard Blog

Slip And Fall Plaintiff Not Required To Prove Notice Of Dangerous Condition If Created By Defendant

By on March 26, 2021 in Negligence with 0 Comments

The plaintiff Thomas Seeley was injured at Bally’s Casino when he slipped and fell in the public men’s restroom.  He had not noticed the moisture on the floor before he fell.  The issue in Seeley v. Caesars Entertainment, 2021 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 446 (App. Div. March 18, 2021), was whether the testimony that the area of the restroom felt wet and slippery and appeared to be moisture left from a wet towel or a mop or a sponge was sufficient to create a jury question as to whether the defendant casino had breached its duty to the plaintiff.

The plaintiff, who was an attorney, was attending a deposition in Atlantic City at Bally’s Casino, owned by the defendant, and, during a break, used one of the public men’s restroom.  The plaintiff walked across the floor and slipped and fell on his back.  He suffered serious back injuries, undergoing multiple level lumbar fusion surgery.

The plaintiff did not notice the moisture on the floor before the fall.  However, his co-counsel who had entered the men’s room with him, observed a pattern of moisture covering a “fairly wide area” of plaintiff’s back.  He then observed the floor, which felt wet and slippery, and described the floor to be “the amount of moisture that would be left if you took a wet towel and rubbed it on the floor, or a mop, or a sponge or something.”  Further, he testified that it seemed to be consistent with someone who had cleaned the floor.  Both he and the co-counsel assumed the moisture on the floor was water because it was odorless. 

The defendant casino obtained a summary judgment dismissal at the trial court level.  That order was appealed to the Appellate Division. 

The Appellate Division noted a business owner’s responsibility to invitees to encompass “a duty of reasonable or due care to provide a safe environment for doing that which is within the scope of the invitation.”  Also, the duty owed to a business invitee “includes an affirmative duty to inspect the premises and requires a business owner to discover and eliminate dangerous conditions, to maintain the premises in safe condition, and to avoid creating conditions that would render the premises unsafe.”

The Court pointed out that, typically, business owners are not liable for injuries caused by conditions of which they had no actual or constructive notice and no reasonable opportunity to discover.  However, the Appellate Division noted that “notice is not required if the injured plaintiff can establish that the defendants created the dangerous condition.”            

Applying these principles to the facts of the case, the Appellate Division reversed the trial court judge.  It found that the co-counsel’s testimony did raise genuine issues of material fact because he testified that the restroom floor felt wet and slippery and it appeared that the moisture was something that could be left by a wet towel or a mop or a sponge.  Thus, a reasonable jury “could legitimately infer that one of defendants’ employee’s responsible for cleaning the restroom created the wet and slippery condition that caused plaintiff’s fall and resulting injury.”  Accordingly, the Appellate Division reversed and remanded the matter back to the trial court for further proceedings.

Betsy G. Ramos, Esq. is expanding her practice to include serving as mediator for NJ or PA civil cases. Ms. Ramos recently completed the required 40-hour Civil Mediation Training Program conducted by the New Jersey Association of Professional Mediators (NJAPM). Completion of this program meets the training requirements for Rule 1:40 Civil, General Equity, and Probate Mediation Roster of the Superior Court, as maintained by the New Jersey Administrative Office of the Courts.

Please contact Ms. Ramos at 856-914-2052 or bramos@capehart.com if you wish to retain her services as a mediator for any civil litigation, including personal injury, construction, employment, probate, or chancery matters.



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.

“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.

*No aspect of this advertisement has been submitted to or approved by the Supreme Court of New Jersey.


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