Constructive Notice Examples In Florida Slip And Fall Cases

Constructive Notice Examples in Florida Slip and Fall Cases

In a Florida slip and fall case, an injured person must prove that the property had notice of the dangerous condition that cause your fall. There are 2 types of notice: actual and constructive. Actual notice occurs when the property owner knew of the dangerous condition or created it themselves. This type of notice is often difficult to prove for some injured parties, especially if the necessary evidence is not collected early in the process. Where there is no evidence that the owner had actual notice, the victim must proceed on the theory that the defendant had constructive notice.

Florida has specific requirements to prove constructive notice when the case involves a transitory foreign substance such as water. According to Florida statutory law, if a person slips and falls on a transitory foreign substance in a business establishment, constructive knowledge may be proven by circumstantial evidence showing that: (1) the dangerous condition existed for such a length of time that, in the exercise of ordinary care, the business establishment should have known of the condition; or (2) the condition occurred with regularity and was therefore foreseeable. If you can’t prove notice, the court will direct a verdict for the defendant and you will lose your case. Examples Where The Court Did Not Find The Owner Had Constructive Notice of A Dangerous Condition.

WINN–DIXIE STORES, INC v. Janet MAZZIE, and Jerry Mazzie 707 So.2d 927

Janet Mazzie walked to the deli department to buy some pepperoni, but upon seeing a Winn-Dixie employee kneeling in front of the refrigerated case containing the item, she decided to do some other shopping first. She then walked to the meat department in another area of the store and obtained a selection. Because she was talking to a butcher in the meat department, it was, according to Mazzie, “a little bit” before she returned to the deli department to obtain the pepperoni.

The employee that Mazzie had earlier observed in front of the case had left the deli area by the time she returned. Unfortunately, upon her return to the area, she slipped and fell to the floor and was injured.   At trial, she testified that she did not see any foreign matter on the floor before falling, but noticed, after the fall, a clear odorless liquid that looked like water. She admitted that she never saw the employee in front of the refrigerator case drop anything on the floor and did not know how the liquid got on the floor or how long it had been there. A Winn-Dixie employee testified that a zone check ten minutes before Mazzie fell revealed no foreign matter. The employee who was observed by Mazzie in the deli area testified that he was restocking hot dogs at the time and that he checked the floor before he left the area and that everything was clear and fine.

Two customers who witnessed the fall testified that they observed nothing on the floor. One of the customers testified that she crawled around on the floor while assisting Mazzie and specifically checked for any substance on the floor so that no one else would be injured, but she saw nothing. A paramedic who assisted Mazzie after the accident testified that he saw a puddle of water the size of a dinner plate on the floor next to where Mazzie had fallen. The court found that Mazzie provided no competent evidence of actual or constructive knowledge by the premises owner of the dangerous condition. They reversed her judgment.

Naushad HUSSAIN and Raana Naushad v. WINN DIXIE STORES, INC. 765 So.2d 141

Here, Raana was shopping with her two younger children in a Winn Dixie store when she stepped on a raw egg that had been dropped in the middle of an aisle in the store. Her feet slipped out from under her and she fell on her back, hitting her head. No one saw her actually fall, and no one had any idea about how the egg came to be dropped in the middle of the aisle. The yolk of the egg which caused the plaintiff to slip had not crusted or aged from being left on the floor for a long period of time. In fact, the yolk was fresh and runny. Furthermore, an employee testified that he had mopped the floors at least thirty minutes before the plaintiff fell and saw nothing that would cause the plaintiff to fall.

As a result, the court found “because there was no proof or suggestion that a store employee caused the egg to fall where it was, or that Raana did, or that anyone actually saw the egg before Raana fell,” that Winn Dixie could not be charged with constructive knowledge of a dangerous condition.

Constructive Notice Examples in Florida Slip and Fall Cases

Example of Where The Court Did Find The Owner Had Constructive Notice of A Dangerous Condition.

Barbara WOODS and Anthony Woods v. WINN DIXIE STORES, INC 621 So.2d 710

Anthony Woods slipped and fell on an unidentified substance while shopping in Winn Dixie. He testified, and a Winn Dixies employee testified, that there was dirt, scuffs or skid marks in the substance that caused the plaintiff to fall, indicating that the substance had been there for a long enough time that shopping carts traveled through it.  Based on this information, the jury found that Winn Dixie had constructive notice of this dangerous condition and neglected to correct it. The appellate court found that the inferences made from the circumstantial evidence were reasonable and supported the jury’s verdict.

As you can see, proving the necessary notice in your slip and fall case can be complicated. It is very important to analyze all the facts and collect evidence. Having an experienced Florida Slip and Fall lawyer on your side is crucial.

Call Jaime “Mr. 786 Abogado” Suarez today to Get You Paid!

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