Clark v. Kmart Corp.

634 N.W.2d 347

 

RULE:

A storekeeper must provide a reasonably safe store for customers, and is liable for injury resulting from an unsafe condition caused by the active negligence of the storekeeper/employees or, is responsible for conditions caused and known to be dangerous to the storekeeper, which have existed a sufficient length of time that he should have had knowledge of it.

FACTS:

Plaintiff visited a store owned by the defendant. As plaintiff entered the store, she slipped on several loose grapes scattered throughout the lane, injuring herself during the fall. Plaintiff sued defendant, and the trial court returned a jury verdict of negligence in plaintiff's favor. Defendant moved for a directed verdict, and was denied. Defendant appealed, and the appellate court reversed the trial court's decision, holding that defendant was entitled to a directed verdict because the plaintiff provided insufficient evidence that the defendant should have been on notice of the grapes. Plaintiff appeals from that ruling.

ISSUE:

Whether the evidence was sufficient for the jury to find that the dangerous condition that led to the plaintiff's injury existed for a sufficient period of time for the defendant to have known of its existence?

ANSWER:

Yes, there was sufficient evidence for the jury to find that the defendant knew about the condition, which led to the plaintiff's injury.

CONCLUSION:

In reversing the appellate court's ruling, the Court held that given testimony from a store employee regarding check-out lane closure timing, the jury could have reasonable inferred that the grapes were dropped when a customer was buying grapes while the lane was still open, over an hour before the accident. The jury could also have inferred that the store employees had time to discover the grapes, and clean up the condition - but they failed to do so. Further, there is evidence that they knew about this dangerous condition, and did not do anything about it.

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