Thursday, November 6, 2014

Watch Out for Candles in the Frozen Foods Aisle

The case of Ketchum v. Giant Food Stores LLC,  (Pa. Super. Sept. 30, 2014) (Memorandum by Bowes, J.), represents the Superior Court's latest unpublished, non-precedential Opinion on the scope of a possessor of land's liability for harm caused to a business invitee.

This case involved a Plaintiff who allegedly slipped and fell on some candles while shopping in the frozen foods aisle of the Defendant's store.  On appeal after trial, the Plaintiff's challenged the propriety of the trial court's instructions to the jury.

After noting that the trial court properly utilized Pennsylvania Suggested Standard Jury Instruction 18.40 (Pa.SSJI 18.40), which instructed the jury that the Plaintiff was required to prove that the Defendant property owner had actual or constructive notice of a danger, the Superior Court affirmed the trial court's post-trial rulings in favor of the defense and the defense verdict. 

The Court noted that, under this well-settled premise liability law, the burden is upon plaintiff to prove that the premises owner knew or, with the exercise of reasonable care, should have known of the harmful condition, or in the alternative, was responsible for creating the harmful condition.
According to the Opinion, the trial record confirmed that the Defendant's employees regularly inspected the area where plaintiff fell.  Moreover, on the day in question, the area was inspected about 13 minutes before Plaintiff's alleged accident.  There was no evidence that the Defendant created the dangerous condition.  

Anyone wishing to review this decision by the Pennsylvania Superior Court may click this LINK.
Source:  Case Digests of Pennsylvania Law Weekly (October, 2014)

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