Premises Liability: Court Grants Summary Judgment in Favor of Supermarket, Finding No Evidence of a Defective or Dangerous Condition
April 9, 2018
Ayala v. Tops Markets, LLC, et al. (N.Y. Sup. Ct. Monroe Co.)
In Ayala, the plaintiff allegedly tripped and fell on a seasonal carpet in a supermarket aisle and hit her face on an ice cream freezer, causing injuries. Plaintiff then filed suit, alleging the supermarket negligently created a defective and dangerous condition and failed to properly and safely maintain the area so as to prevent tripping hazards.
The supermarket moved for summary judgment. The supermarket argued that plaintiff could not identify what caused her fall, pointing out that plaintiff made inconsistent statements as to whether the carpet was torn, ripped, or raised, and that plaintiff’s testimony indicated other possible causes, including possibly her own lack of balance as she used a walking cane, orthopedic shoes, and was blind in one eye. The supermarket also argued that plaintiff produced no evidence that the seasonal carpet was defective, and that even if a defect existed it was trivial (as plaintiff alleged the carpet was raised less than two inches) and therefore not actionable under New York law. The supermarket also argued that if a defect existed, as a matter of law the supermarket did not have notice of the condition for long enough to remedy it (as would be required to impart liability) because the evidence showed the store manager regularly checked the premises for safety hazards and had done so 30 minutes before plaintiff’s fall. The Supreme Court, Monroe County (Hon. Debra A. Martin, Acting J.S.C.) agreed, granting the supermarket’s motion for summary judgment and dismissing plaintiff’s complaint.