Supermarket Slip/Fall Personal Injury Claim Survives Summary Judgment

In Capobianco v. Stop & Shop Supermarket Co. LLC, No. 14 CIV. 6112 (NSR), 2017 WL 1157173 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 24, 2017), a personal injury slip-and-fall action, the court denied defendant’s motion for summary judgment.

In sum, plaintiff testified that upon entering the “bottle room” of defendant’s supermarket (i.e., the area where customers tend to their recycling needs), she “noticed a mop and bucket off to the side but continued on, slipped, and fell to the floor.” At that point, “she noticed the entire surface was wet as though it had recently been mopped, and she saw what appeared to be mop lines.”

The court held that there were genuine disputes of material fact that precluded summary judgment.

The court gives us a summary of the relevant law:

To establish a prima facie case of negligence under New York law, a plaintiff must demonstrate (1) a duty owed by the defendant to the plaintiff, (2) a breach thereof, and (3) injury proximately resulting therefrom. With respect to a motion for summary judgment in a slip-and-fall case, the plaintiff must demonstrate a genuine issue of material fact that the defendant either created the dangerous condition or had actual or constructive notice of the condition. Summary judgment for the defendant … is appropriate where a plaintiff has provided no evidence from which it could be inferred that the defendant had even constructive notice of the defect before the plaintiff’s injury.

Applying the law, the court concluded:

Defendant accurately summarizes Plaintiff’s sworn deposition testimony as follows: after slipping and falling to the floor, she saw, for the first time, moisture on the floor that appeared to be streaks or mop lines; there were no puddles, but the entire floor was wet. But Defendant ignores Plaintiff’s testimony that “she saw a mop and bucket on the right side of the recycling center as she approached the entrance to the center[.]” Glossing over the alleged mop and bucket in the room, Defendant contends Plaintiff is merely speculating that “the moisture on the floor … was caused by [D]efendant,” which is “insufficient to raise a triable issue of fact” on the issue of whether Defendant created the dangerous condition.

The fair inference to be drawn from the evidence presented, crediting Plaintiff’s version of events, is that the slippery floor was the result of a recent mopping by one of Defendant’s employees as evidenced by the mop and bucket in the room.

Importantly, the discrepancy between the plaintiff’s and defendant’s versions of events – plaintiff said there was a mop and bucket in the room when she fell and the floor was wet; defendant’s employees said the opposite – “amounts to a genuine dispute of material fact which precludes summary judgment.”

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