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Tort/Negligence – Slip & Fall – Water Puddle – Store Produce Department

Carn v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (Lawyers Weekly No. 002-134-17, 6 pp.) (David Norton, J.) 9:16-cv-00892; D.S.C.

Holding: Without the deposition testimony of two Walmart employees who are seen on the store’s surveillance video of its produce department shortly before plaintiff slipped and fell in a puddle of water on the floor of the produce department, the court cannot rule that the store lacked actual or constructive knowledge of the puddle.

The court denies Walmart’s motion for summary judgment.

The surveillance video also shows a large shopping cart containing fresh vegetables in the aisle where plaintiff fell. Plaintiff argues – albeit without any evidence in the record to support her assertion – that large grocers such as Walmart “constantly wet their fresh vegetables with mist.” If this is true and plaintiff can put on testimony from either an expert in the business practices of large grocers or from a Walmart employee that the produce aisle frequently has water on the floor due to the practice of misting fresh vegetables, then a reasonable juror could find that Walmart either knew or should have known that the vegetable cart, which the surveillance videotape shows the cart attendant unloading immediately preceding plaintiff’s fall, would have water dripping on to the floor that could have formed the puddle.

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