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Law School Case Brief

Corbin v. Safeway Stores, Inc. - 648 S.W.2d 292 (Tex. 1983)

Rule:

When an occupier has actual or constructive knowledge of any condition on the premises that poses an unreasonable risk of harm to invitees, he has a duty to take whatever action is reasonably prudent under the circumstances to reduce or to eliminate the unreasonable risk from that condition. The occupier is considered to have constructive knowledge of any premises defects or other dangerous conditions that a reasonably careful inspection would reveal. 

Facts:

Gary Corbin sued Safeway Stores, Inc. (Safeway) for damages resulting from personal injuries he suffered when he slipped on a grape and fell in a Safeway produce aisle. The trial court granted Safeway's motion for directed verdict, which the court of appeals affirmed. Corbin sought further review.

Issue:

Did the appellate court err in affirming the judgment granting Safeway’s motion for a directed verdict in the negligence action brought by Corbin?

Answer:

Yes

Conclusion:

The court reversed the appellate court and remanded for a new trial. The court held that Safeway knew or should have known that the self-service method for the display of green grapes in an open, slanted bin above a tile floor was a condition that resulted in an unreasonable risk of falling to the customers. Corbin was not required to prove Safeway's knowledge of one specific hazard or one particular instance of negligence. The self-service grape bin in conjunction with the absence of a mat or other preventative measure on the floor posed an unreasonable risk of harm. Reasonable minds could have concluded that Safeway did not use reasonable care to take some preventative measure against the foreseeable harm. The absence of a mat or other preventative measure was a foreseeable cause-in-fact of the fall and Corbin had a right to have the proximate cause issue decided by the jury.

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