In a recent Court of Appeals decision, Sumrall v. Winco Foods, LLC, Cal. Ct. App. (2014), the court had before it an appeal in a grocery store premises liability action.
The plaintiff entered a Temecula grocery store operated by Winco following a rainy morning. After walking through a carpeted area, the plaintiff stepped onto a painted concrete floor within the store, at which point she purportedly slipped, fell, and thus suffered an injury.
The plaintiff filed suit, alleging the store was negligent in allowing the rain water to accumulate on the floor, which created a slippery and dangerous area.
During the deposition of the store’s expert, he stated that he went to the store in question and, based on his inspection of the area, concluded that the floor offered adequate traction when dry, but that it was slippery when wet. He performed a coefficient of friction test, where he poured water onto the floor and conducted various tests regarding the chances of slipping. He reached various conclusions regarding how wet the floor would have to be in order to create a risk of slipping.
There was testimony by a store employee regarding the store’s policy of conducting safety sweeps in order to ensure that the floor was clear from debris and did not become wet, due to the potential for it to create a potential hazard.
A risk and safety scientist also testified regarding surveillance video of the plaintiff and determined that the cause of the fall was a loss of traction followed by a loss of stability.
Just before the close of trial, the plaintiff attempted to introduce as evidence the testimony of the defendant’s expert witness regarding the friction tests, but the court did not allow it. The jury then returned a verdict for the defendant, and the plaintiff moved for a new trial, claiming the denial of the evidence was prejudicial against her case.
On appeal, the court reviewed the relevant rules regarding admissibility of evidence. Generally speaking, all relevant evidence is admissible. Regarding the admissibility of the deposition of the defendant’s expert witness, the court took judicial notice of the fact that his deposition fell under the exception of his living more than 150 miles from the location of the trial, and the fact that he was represented by the defendant’s counsel at the proceeding. Therefore, his deposition could have been introduced as evidence.
However, the court found that the plaintiff failed to demonstrate that her case was actually prejudiced by the judge’s decision to keep the testimony from being introduced at trial. Therefore, the trial court judge’s decision, and thus the decision itself, was affirmed.
If you have been injured in a slip and fall situation or any other premises liability type of incident, contact the skilled premises liability attorneys at Sharifi Firm. A skilled California slip and fall lawyer, such as those at Sharifi Firm, will have experience in getting to the bottom of cases like yours and to help determine the viability of case for negligence.
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