Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Summary Judgment Granted Where Plaintiff Tripped in Supermarket Over Open and Obvious Pallet Stacked with Cases of Water

(Not a picture from this case)

In the recent case of Walker v. Save-A-Lot, No. 18-CV-95 (E.D. Pa. June 12, 2018 DuBois, J.), summary judgment was granted in favor the defense in a case in which a Plaintiff fell over a pallet while stepping backwards.

According to the Opinion, the pallet was located in the middle of the aisle in the frozen foods section.  The Plaintiff walked towards the pallet and stopped her cart next to the pallet and went went to the door of the frozen foods section to grab a pizza.  As she then backed up, she tripped over the pallet.  The Plaintiff alleged that she never saw the pallet because she was focused on getting her pizza from the freezer unit.

The court found that, based upon the record before it, the pallet over which the Plaintiff tripped, was an open and obvious condition.  It was noted that the Plaintiff had walked past another pallet in the same aisle and that both pallets were stacked high with cases of water.  The court pointed to the well-settled law that landowners are not liable for injuries caused by known of obvious conditions.

Quoting the well-known case of Carrender v. Fitterer, 469 A.2d 120, 123 (Pa. 1983), the court in Walker stated that “[a] danger is deemed to be ‘obvious’ when ‘both the condition and the risk are apparent to and would be recognized by a reasonable man, in the position of the visitor, exercising normal perception, intelligence, and judgment.’”

While the question of whether a danger is known and obvious is typically a jury question, the court noted that where, as here, no reasonable minds on a jury could disagree on a conclusion that the danger was known and obvious, the court could decide the issue on a summary judgment motion.

The court additionally noted that it is "hornbook law in Pennsylvania that a person must look where he is walking."  

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this decision may click this LINK.

I send thanks for Attorney James M. Beck of the Reed Smith Law Firm in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for bringing this case to my attention. 

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