Recently, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit issued a written opinion in an Indiana slip-and-fall case involving a woman’s fall at a pharmacy chain. The case required the court to determine if a lower court was proper in granting summary judgment in favor of the defendant. Finding that the plaintiff failed to establish that the defendant had knowledge of the hazard that caused her fall, the court affirmed judgment in the defendant’s favor.
The plaintiff was visiting a Walgreen’s pharmacy when she slipped and fell on what she believed to be a puddle of water. However, witness accounts differed regarding whether there was water on the floor after the plaintiff’s fall. Several store employees claimed that no water was present. However, the plaintiff and her friend testified that there was a puddle of water present. The plaintiff also told responding paramedics that she had slipped on a puddle of water.
At trial, the court determined that the plaintiff’s statement to paramedics was inadmissible hearsay, precluding it from consideration. Thus, the court then held that the plaintiff failed to make out her case against the defendant. The plaintiff appealed.
The Court’s Decision
On appeal, the court affirmed the lower court’s ruling, but for different reasons. The court assumed, for the sake of argument, that the plaintiff’s statement to paramedics was admissible and focused on whether her claim was legally sufficient, taking into account the statement.
The court explained that a required element in an Indiana premises liability lawsuit is establishing that the defendant had actual or constructive knowledge of the hazard that caused the plaintiff’s injuries. Here, the court held that the plaintiff presented no evidence suggesting that any Walgreen’s employee knew or should have known that there was a puddle of water in the store.
The plaintiff argued that she met this burden through the admission of a store manager’s testimony, which admitted that it had been snowing earlier that day and that sometimes customers would track snow inside the store. However, the court explained that the mere possibility of the existence of a hazard is not the same as knowledge of an actual hazard. Thus, the court determined that the plaintiff’s case was legally insufficient and affirmed the lower court’s dismissal of the plaintiff’s case.
Have You Been Injured in an Indiana Slip-and-Fall Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in an Indiana slip-and-fall accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The dedicated Indiana personal injury lawyers at the law firm of Parr Richey Frandsen Patterson Kruse have extensive experience representing victims and their families in a wide range of Indiana personal injury cases, including slip-and-fall accidents. We also provide free consultations to accident victims to discuss the merits of their cases and how we may be able to help. Call 888-532-7766 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case with an attorney today.
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