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Friday, September 4, 2015

Texas Supreme Court Issues Pivotal Ruling in Premises Liability Action

What should a business owner know about recent premises liability legal updates?

In June, 2015, the Texas Supreme Court considered a pivotal lawsuit against grocery store chain Kroger involving alleged injuries sustained by a grocery store janitor. In that case, the maintenance worker was asked to clean up two oil-based spills in two separate restrooms. He was able to clean the first spill without incident, but slipped and fell – causing alleged physical injuries – during the cleanup of the second spill. In his subsequent personal injury lawsuit, he contended that he should have been provided “Spill Magic” to apply to the floors prior to cleaning, and his accident would likely have been prevented. In other words, the store’s was negligent in failing to provide the cleaning solvent and so was responsible for his resulting injuries.

After winding its way through the state court system, the case finally made its way to the Texas Supreme Court. After much consideration, the court held in favor of the grocery store, stating that it owed no duty to the plaintiff to warn about “open and obvious” dangers. In other words, the plaintiff was made fully aware of the greasy substance on the floor by the mere fact he was asked to clean it up, and no further mitigation by the store was necessary.

By contrast, plaintiffs experiencing a slip-and-fall who have not been made aware of known substances or hazards on the floor may still be in a position to recover from the property owner, provided the plaintiff can show that a reasonable shopkeeper should have known that the substance was on the floor in a public area.

In the context of the employee-injury noted in the case above, the Court also highlighted the fact that the analysis applies equally to those employers who do not subscribe to the Texas workers’ compensation structure – which is voluntary.

If you have recently been injured in a slip-and-fall accident or would like to speak to a reputable Texas personal injury attorney for any reason,  please contact Sawicki Law. Serving clients throughout Texas with skill and compassion, we can be reached at 888-468-8844.

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