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Women Slips and Falls in Public Restroom, New York Appellate Court Denies Defendant’s Summary Judgement Motion


A woman went to a fast-food burger joint and ate there. After finishing her meal, she went to use the bathroom. She waited a while to use the bathroom as another lady was still using the bathroom when she got there. When she entered the bathroom, as she passed the sink to go to the toilet, she had a slip and fall because of a puddle of water.

After her slip and fall, she cleaned up herself and limped out of the bathroom. As she left, she saw a yellow caution (wet floor) sign outside the bathroom area. The sign was folded near the wall of the men’s bathroom.

She reported her slip and fall to the store manager. From the store manager the lady learned that the bathroom had just been mopped not half an hour before her slip and fall. She also learned that there was no regularly scheduled cleaning of the bathrooms; any regularly scheduled inspection of the bathrooms. A New York Criminal Lawyer said the store manager informed her that he had not received any information that a puddle of water existed near the sink in the ladies’ bathroom.

After discovery, the fast-food burger joint filed a motion for summary judgment alleging that it had no notice that a puddle had formed in the ladies’ bathroom and it did not have any opportunity to clean or prevent the puddle from becoming a dangerous condition.

The only question before the court is whether or not there are still issues of fact that need to be tried by a jury. A Nassau County Personal Injury Lawyer said the Court ruled that it is a law that owners of establishments must keep their premises reasonably safe for its customers, and avoid putting them at risk of serious personal injury. However, the law also puts the burden on the plaintiff to show that the fast-food establishment acted negligently and created the puddle, or, that it had actual or constructive notice off the puddle which caused the slip and fall injury and yet, it chose to do nothing.

In this case, since it is the fast-food burger joint that filed a motion for summary judgment, it has the burden of proving affirmatively not only that it did not create the puddle, it also has the burden of proving that it had no actual or constructive notice that the puddle existed.

The Court rejected the fast-food burger joint’s claim that it could not have known about the puddle as no one complained of it and that they could not have learned about it as there were no regular inspections in the bathroom. A Manhattan Personal Injury Lawyer said the Court notes that the fast-food burger joint is a popular fast-food chain that has a lot of people so it defies all belief that clean-ups and inspections are only conducted as needed when a customer complains.

The fast-food burger joint claims that the woman who used the bathroom just before the plaintiff used the bathroom could have created the puddle. Even if another customer created the puddle, still the fast-food burger joint cannot be relieved of its responsibility to positively show that it had not created the puddle and it had no notice of the existence of the puddle.

The fast-food joint’s motion for summary judgment motion is denied and the parties are directed by the Court to report for jury selection in preparation for trial.

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