Thoma v. Cracker Barrel Old Country Store

649 So. 2d 277 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1995)

 

RULE:

To recover for injuries incurred in a slip and fall accident, plaintiff must show that the premises owner either created a dangerous condition or had actual or constructive knowledge of a dangerous condition. Notice of a dangerous condition may be established by circumstantial evidence, such as evidence leading to an inference that a substance has been on the floor for a sufficient amount of time that in the exercise of reasonable care the condition should have become known to the premises owner.

FACTS:

A customer suffered a back injury when she fell in the Tallahassee Cracker Barrel Restaurant. In a case filed to recover for injuries she sustained, she alleged that Cracker Barrel negligently maintained the floor in a particular area of the restaurant either by creating a dangerous condition or by failing to discover a condition that had existed for a sufficient time so that Cracker Barrel knew or should have known about it. Cracker Barrel filed a motion for summary judgment, which was granted by the trial court. The case was appealed to the Court of Appeal of Florida.

ISSUE:

Was the summary judgment proper?

ANSWER:

No

CONCLUSION:

The appeals court found that it was for a jury to determine whether the preponderance of the evidence supported the plaintiff's allegations that the defendant created a dangerous condition. The court held that to recover for injuries incurred in a slip and fall accident, plaintiff must show that the premises owner either created a dangerous condition or had actual or constructive knowledge of a dangerous condition. The appeals court further held that notice of a dangerous condition could be established by circumstantial evidence, such as evidence leading to an inference that a substance had been on the floor for a sufficient length of time that in the exercise of reasonable care the condition should have become known to the premises owner. 

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