Court dismisses claim arising out of fall on freshly-mopped floor
Jacqueline Maness sued the Carlton Pharmacy and a company hired to mop its floors, alleging that she hadn't been adequately warned of the slippery, wet floor on which she fell, suffering serious injury. Initially, her claim was dismissed on appeal, after the defendants claimed that the trial court should have found the condition of the floor to be an "open and obvious" danger. The Supreme Court reversed, however, noting that Maness' claim against the cleaning company, which was not in possession of the drugstore premises, could not be evaluated under the "open and obvious" doctrine, since that doctrine applies only to hazards maintained by a landowner/possessor. The claim against the cleaning agency was sent back to the trial court to be evaluated on the basis of negligence and comparative fault.
The sitting judge concluded that the case should be dismissed on the negligence theory because it was not foreseeable that a third-party in Maness' position would not appreciate the danger associated with the wet floor, given the cleaner's documented utilization of warning signs (there was video of the fall and of the location of the signs). The Court of Appeals agreed this week, and upheld the dismissal, finding no evidence of fault on the part of the cleaning company.
The Court found that there was no dispute regarding the fact that a wet floor is slippery and therefore it was foreseeable that customers could slip and fall on the freshly-mopped floor. Nevertheless, with the signs placed where they were, the court concluded that "an average user with ordinary intelligence [would] have been able to discover the danger and the risk presented upon casual inspection" and therefore, Maness could not prove fault on the part of the Defendants.