Jones v. Ringer (Lawyers Weekly No. 002-196-17, 10 pp.) (R. Bryan Harwell, J.) 4:17-cv-02182; D.S.C.
Holding: Contrary to defendants’ arguments, this court has not misinterpreted South Carolina law. Under South Carolina law, a store manager can be held personally and jointly liable with the store itself for an alleged act of negligence.
The court grants plaintiff’s motion to remand to state court.
In South Carolina, a plaintiff suing a master and servant for injuries which he has sustained as a result of the negligence of the servant, within the scope of his employment, may bring suit against master and servant, and join them as joint tortfeasors.
Here, plaintiff alleges defendant Ringer was “acting as a manager of Wal-Mart Store #630,” and that “[a]s manager, Defendant Ringer’s responsibilities and duties include, but are not limited to, cleaning, monitoring, and maintaining the premises of Wal-Mart Store #630 to ensure that it is safe, clean, and not dangerous for customers, patrons, and invitees.” Plaintiff further alleges that “due to the negligence of Defendants”—who include Ringer—she stepped on a rusty nail while she was in an area where pallets were located and suffered severe injuries eventually leading to the amputation of half her right leg. She also alleges that “Defendants”—who include Ringer—“either knew or should have known that the floor area where Plaintiff’s injuries were initiated presented a danger to patrons of Defendant’s store, or that Defendant created the dangerous condition.”
These allegations indicate Ringer, by virtue of his position as a manager, had a sufficient degree of control over the Wal-Mart store such that he had a duty to reasonably inspect the area where the pallets and rusty nail were located.
The complaint also alleges that Ringer breached his duty to customers like plaintiff and proximately caused plaintiff’s injuries as a result of the breach. Specifically, plaintiff’s allegations suggest she would not have stepped on the rusty nail but for Ringer’s failure to inspect the area where it was located.
Accordingly, the court finds there is a possibility that plaintiff can establish a negligence claim against Ringer in state court.