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Charoff v. MarMaxx Operating Corp.

United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania

April 7, 2020, Decided; April 7, 2020, Filed

CIVIL ACTION NO. 18-4712

Opinion

MEMORANDUM

Jones, II J.

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Natalia Charoff commenced the above-captioned matter against Defendants MarMaxx Operating Corporation d/b/a/ TJ Maxx, TJX Companies Inc. d/b/a TJ Maxx, and TJ Maxx Department Store, alleging she sustained injuries after a liquid substance inside the Langhorne, Pennsylvania TJ Maxx store caused her to slip and fall. Currently before the court is Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. For the reasons set forth herein, said Motion shall be denied.

II. BACKGROUND

a. Procedural History

Plaintiff commenced this litigation by filing a Writ of Summons in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas on October 14, 2018. (ECF No. 1, Ex. A.) On October 24, 2018, Plaintiff filed a Complaint and shortly thereafter, Defendants removed the matter to federal court on the basis of diversity. (ECF No. 1.) Defendants then filed an Answer and the matter was referred to an arbitration panel. (ECF Nos. 3, 9.) A hearing [*2]  was held in July 2019, at which time Plaintiff was awarded damages. (ECF No. 15.) Defendants appealed the arbitrator's decision and requested a trial de novo. (ECF No. 16.) However, shortly thereafter, Defendants moved for summary judgment. (ECF No. 18.) Plaintiff filed a Response thereto (ECF Nos. 21, 22), and Defendants filed a Reply. (ECF No. 23.)1 The matter is now ripe for disposition.

b. Undisputed Facts

The undisputed facts2 establish that on September 9, 2016, Plaintiff slipped and fell at a TJ Maxx store located at 2424 East Lincoln Highway in Langhorne, Pennsylvania. (SUF ¶ 2; RSUF ¶ 2.) When Plaintiff first entered TJ Maxx, she went to the back of the store to get a box of cookies. (SUF ¶ 9; RSUF ¶9; Pl.'s Dep. 17:18-18:1, April 23, 2019.) Plaintiff then walked to the front of the store to purchase the cookies, but discovered they were not marked with a price. (SUF ¶ 10; RSUF ¶ 10; Pl.'s Dep. 18:1-5, 10-17.) She returned to the rear of the store and retrieved another box before heading back up to the front once again. (SUF ¶¶ 11-12; RSUF ¶¶ 11-12; Pl.'s Dep. 18:5-7.) As she approached the check-out area—approximately [*3]  twelve (12) feet from where the cashiers were located—Plaintiff slipped and fell. (SUF ¶ 12-14; RSUF ¶ 12-14; Pl.'s Dep. 18:8-9, 22:6-14, 27:13-28:1.)

During her deposition, Plaintiff testified that she did not see anything on the floor prior to her fall, but that after she slipped, she noticed dirty wet spots. (SUF ¶ 15; RSUF ¶ 15; Pl.'s Dep. 31:21-24, 32:7-8.) Plaintiff further stated that she touched the wet spots and they felt slimy and very sticky, and appeared transparent but dirty. (SUF ¶ 15; RSUF ¶ 15; Pl.'s Dep. 32:2-6.) Plaintiff described the spilled liquid as being about one (1) foot wide, and said she did not know how it got there or how long it had been there. (SUF ¶ 15; RSUF ¶ 15; Pl.'s Dep. 32:9-23.) Plaintiff testified that she saw a "cleaning lady" somewhere near the front of the store who was using a mop; Plaintiff assumed the employee was using the mop to clean, but she did not know for certain. (SUF ¶ 15; RSUF ¶ 15; Pl.'s Dep. 33:3-15.) Plaintiff also stated she did not observe any customers spilling liquids in the area where she fell. (SUF ¶ 15; RSUF ¶ 15; Pl.'s Dep. 33:22-24, 34:1.)

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2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 60788 *

NATALIA CHAROFF, Plaintiff, v. MARMAXX OPERATING CORP. d/b/a TJ MAXX; TJX COMPANIES, INC. d/b/a TJ MAXX; and, TJ MAXX DEPARTMENT STORE, Defendants.

CORE TERMS

video, spilled, liquid, footage, summary judgment, constructive notice, surveillance, floor, actual notice, invitee, self-serving, nonmoving, witnessed, genuine issue of material fact, summary judgment motion, failure to produce, slip and fall, disputes, clean, reasonable care, store employee, no evidence, preservation, spoliation, captured, discover, monitor