Federal District Court in South Carolina Grants Summary Judgment in Favor of Store After Customer’s Slip and Fall

When members of the general public think about lawsuits in which a person has been injured or killed due to another party’s negligence (such as a South Carolina premises liability case), they may envision the case going to trial and a jury deciding whether the defendant was negligent and, if so, the amount of compensation to which the plaintiff is entitled.

However, not every plaintiff gets to have a jury decide his or her case. Often, the defendant in a personal injury or wrongful death case will file what’s known as a “motion for summary judgment.” In reviewing such a motion, the trial court judge is called upon to decide whether, in viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, there are genuine issues of material fact. Only if the answer is “yes” does the case proceed to a jury trial.

Facts of the Case

In a recent premises liability case filed against a large retail store in federal court, the plaintiff was a man who tripped over a sign near the store entranceway during the fall of 2013. The sign had been put in place by the store’s employees but had been dislodged by another customer’s shopping cart just moments before the plaintiff tripped over it. The plaintiff’s lawsuit alleged that the store had negligently maintained its premises and that this was the proximate cause of the injuries that he suffered in the fall. Accordingly, he sought monetary compensation for his injuries. The store moved for summary judgment.

The Court’s Decision

The United States District Court for the District of South Carolina, Rock Hill Division, granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant. First, the court reiterated that, in order to prove that the defendant in a slip and fall case acted negligently, a plaintiff must show that the defendant (or its agent) either created the hazardous condition or had notice of it.

Here, the plaintiff argued that, by placing the “insecure and/or improperly secured” sign so close to a heavy traffic area of the store, the defendant created the dangerous condition. The court, however, disagreed, holding that there was no evidence to suggest that the sign was placed in such a manner as to create an unreasonable risk of harm.

To Talk About Your Slip and Fall Case

If you need to talk to an experienced South Carolina personal injury attorney, call the Patrick E. Knie Law Offices at 864-582-5118 to schedule a consultation in our Spartanburg or Greenville offices. We accept many personal injury and wrongful death cases on a contingency fee basis because we understand that those who have recently been hurt or suffered a death in the family may not be in a position to pay attorney fees upfront. Under a contingency arrangement, we get paid when you get paid – that is, when the case is successfully concluded through a settlement or a judgment in your favor.

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