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Woman Falls in New York Deli, Court Grants Summary Judgement to Defense as Plaintiff Failed to Meet Burden of Proof


On March 26, 2009, a woman was leaving a deli located in her neighborhood. She had frequented the deli two or three times a week for ten years. On this date, as she left the deli, the heel of her shoe slipped into a crack that was concealed beneath the entryway mat and stuck there causing her to fall. She stated that she was injured in the slip and falland that she believes that the deli owners should be liable for her injuries.

The deli owners contend that there was no crack concealed under any mat intentionally or otherwise. A Long Island Personal Injury Lawyer said that they did not create a hazardous situation by placing an entryway mat at that spot, and that they have never had any notice from anyone suggesting that there was a problem with the placement of the mat. The court reviewed the contentions because the deli owners filed a motion for summary judgment releasing them from any liability associated with this case. They maintain that since there is no evidence that they created the problem, or that they were even aware that the problem existed, that the complainant has not met her burden of proof in this case and it should be dismissed.

In New York, according to the statutory law that governs any slip and fall case in which the complainant seeks to be awarded punitive damages because of an injury, they must show that certain criteria have been met. The first criteria that must be met is that there was in fact a hazardous situation. A New York Injury Lawyer said then the complainant must show that the hazardous condition was either caused by the defendants, or the defendants knew or should have known of the existence of the problem. Once the problem is brought to their attention, the defendants have a reasonable time period to correct the problem or to take steps to warn the general public that may be entering or exiting the property that the condition is present. In this case, the defendant contends that there was no hazard. They contend that the only hazard present was the 2 ½ inch high heels that the complainant was wearing that caused her to fall. They maintain that they were never advised of any hazard prior to the woman’s accident.

The court agreed with the deli owners and dismissed the complaint against them in a summary judgment. They determined that the burden of proof to meet the criteria of a slip and fall lawsuit in New York is not placed on the defendant deli, it is placed upon the complainant to prove their case. A Brooklyn Criminal Lawyer said that in this situation, the complainant was unable to show that there was ever any kind of notice given to the deli owners of any type of hazardous situation. Because of the situation present here, the complainant is only speculating that her heel penetrated the carpet and was stuck in a crack in the concrete. She is further speculating that the owners of the deli placed the mat there with the intention of hiding the crack that she claims is present at that location. There is no evidence to support either contention in this case. The woman herself stated that she has safely managed to walk through that area no less than twice a week for ten years without any accidents. The court rightly determined that she did not meet her burden of proof to form a prima facie case of negligence on the part of the deli owner.

While it is the responsibility of any owner of a business that is open to the public to maintain that business in a safe manner, it has not been demonstrated in this case, that the deli owner failed to uphold this responsibility. At Stephen Bilkis & Associates, New York personal injury attorneys can help review a claim for recovered damages. We have convenient offices throughout New York and the Metropolitan area. A New York slip and fall lawyer can review your case and advise you on the best course of action for you and your family.

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