Slip-And-Fall Plaintiff Successful In Negligence Suit Against Restaurant

Author: Trevor M. Cutaiar

68-year-old Cora Ann Ball (“plaintiff”) injured her right shoulder, neck and low back in a slip-and-fall accident at a local cafateria.  While entering the restaurant, plaintiff observed and walked around a wet floor sign.  As she moved past the wet floor sign and stepped onto a floor mat near the cashier, the mat slipped and plaintiff  landed on her right side and shoulder.

Plaintiff and her husband sued the owner of the restaurant and its insurer.  In a judge tried case, Cora was awarded nearly $100,000.00 in past medical expenses, $5,000.00 in future medical expenses, and $125,000.00 for the mental anguish, pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life sustained by plaintiff.  Her husband was also awarded $15,000.00 for loss of consortium.

The defendants appealed the trial court’s decision on a number of grounds, the main contention being that the court erred in finding the defendants liable under La. R.S. 9:2800.6, Louisiana’s statute governing the liability of merchants.  La. R.S. 9:2800.6 dictates that a plaintiff in a negligence action against a merchant has the burden of proving that (1) the condition presented an unreasonable risk of harm and the harm was reasonably foreseeable; (2) the merchant created or had actual or constructive notice of the condition; and (3) the merhcant failed to exercise reasonable care.

Plaintiff testified at trial that she saw a “green slimy substance” under the floor mat after she fell and felt a sticky substance on her leg.  The restaurant’s assistant manager testified that he had recently cleaned up a spill in the area where plaintiff fell and that the wet floor sign was left up at the time she fell because he still considered the area to be dangerous.  The trial court found that the slippery substance under the floor mat was present as a result of the insufficient cleanup efforts taken to clean up a spill ten minutes prior to plaintiff’s fall.  The appellate court found that the record supported the trial court’s factual findings and upheld the trial court’s decision on this issue.

Ball v. Capital City Cornichon Corp., 2011-1862 (La. App. 1st Cir. 5/2/12); 2012 WL 1550545.