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Wilson v. Weigel Stores, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, At Knoxville

January 22, 2020, Session; May 19, 2020, Filed

No. E2019-00605-COA-R3-CV

Opinion

This is a premises liability action in which the plaintiff filed suit against the defendant convenience store for personal injuries resulting from her slip and fall near the gasoline pump. The trial court granted the defendant's motion for summary judgment, holding that the plaintiff failed to establish that the defendant caused or created or should have discovered with reasonable diligence the condition that caused her fall. The plaintiff appeals. We reverse the trial court's decision. We remand this case for proceedings consistent with this opinion.

OPINION

I. BACKGROUND

On the morning of January 22, 2017, Plaintiff Penny Wilson went to Weigel Stores, Inc. ("Weigel's"), [*2]  a gas station and convenience store operating in Dandridge, Tennessee. Plaintiff pulled into Weigel's and parked her car at the gasoline pump. She then began fueling the car and cleaning out the back of the car. Before she could retrieve the trash from her vehicle, Plaintiff slipped and fell. Another customer ("the witness"), described as an older gentleman from Boston, heard Plaintiff's cries for help and came to her aid. The witness alerted the gas station attendant, Heaven Henderson, to Plaintiff's need for emergency assistance. Heaven Henderson wrote the witness's contact information on her arm. The store manager, Tammy Henderson, took photographs1 of the area while Emergency Medical Services ("EMS") personnel tended to Plaintiff. Tammy Henderson then notified her district manager, completed an original incident report, and prepared a written statement, along with Heaven Henderson. Tammy Henderson handwrote the witness's contact information on the typed original incident report that she submitted to the district manager.

On October 10, 2017, Plaintiff filed suit for injuries she sustained as a result of the fall, claiming that Weigel's "was aware and/or in the exercise of reasonable care, should have been aware of a gasoline spill in the parking lot where the Plaintiff was pumping fuel, but [Weigel's] had failed to properly clean up the same and/or otherwise warn the Plaintiff of same." Weigel's denied liability, claiming that Plaintiff fell as a result of her own negligence rather than any conditions on the premises.

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2020 Tenn. App. LEXIS 224 *

PENNY WILSON v. WEIGEL STORES, INC.

Prior History: Tenn. R. App. P. 3 [*1]  Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit Court Reversed; Case Remanded. Appeal from the Circuit Court for Knox County. No. 1-374-17. Kristi M. Davis, Judge.

Disposition: Judgment of the Circuit Court Reversed; Case Remanded.

CORE TERMS

trial court, summary judgment, oil, video, contact information, gasoline, pump, nonmoving party, slipped, spoliation of evidence, incident report, spoliating, sanctions, tending

Civil Procedure, Summary Judgment, Entitlement as Matter of Law, Appropriateness, Appeals, Summary Judgment Review, Standards of Review, Burdens of Proof, Movant Persuasion & Proof, Nonmovant Persuasion & Proof, Torts, Negligence, Elements, Premises & Property Liability, General Premises Liability, General Premises Liability, Dangerous Conditions, Known Dangers, Evidence, Relevance, Preservation of Relevant Evidence, Spoliation, Standards of Review, Abuse of Discretion, Sanctions, Pretrial Sanctions, Frivolous Appeals

Civil Procedure, Summary Judgment, Entitlement as Matter of Law, Appropriateness, Appeals, Summary Judgment Review, Standards of Review, Burdens of Proof, Movant Persuasion & Proof, Nonmovant Persuasion & Proof, Torts, Negligence, Elements, Premises & Property Liability, General Premises Liability, General Premises Liability, Dangerous Conditions, Known Dangers, Evidence, Relevance, Preservation of Relevant Evidence, Spoliation, Standards of Review, Abuse of Discretion, Sanctions, Pretrial Sanctions, Frivolous Appeals