Federal Judge Rules Slip and Fall Case Against Dollar Tree Can Proceed

What factors might prove a store had sufficient notice of a dangerous condition?

A plaintiff in Pennsylvania was recently able to survive a motion for summary judgement filed by Dollar Tree. The ruling could have greater implications for federal slip and fall cases across the country. All too often, slip and fall victims find their cases against large corporations are met with actions for summary judgment. A summary judgment can be daunting, but like this case against Dollar Tree substantiates, plaintiffs can survive with some evidence on their side. Our Santa Fe slip and fall accident lawyers discuss the Pennsylvania case against Dollar Tree and how it might relate to your slip and fall case.

Facts of the Case

The plaintiff in the case of Nelson v. Dollar Tree, Inc., a 57-year-old man, slipped and fell on spilled laundry detergent in a Dollar Tree store back in 2016. The fall had propelled him forward, causing him to land on his front and inflicting serious injuries to his lower back, knees, and hips. According to the plaintiff, the store cashier told the emergency responders that a customer had complained about the spill ten minutes prior to his fall. Reportedly, a customer had approached the cashier and stated that she spilled the detergent.

Defendant Dollar Tree moved for summary judgment, urging that the plaintiff presented no admissible evidence as to Dollar Tree’s knowledge of the dangerous condition. Dollar Tree argued that the statement by the cashier should be viewed as inadmissible hearsay. The court, however, found otherwise. It held that the casher’s statement is not barred by the hearsay rule because it falls under one of two exceptions. It can be viewed as a statement to prove notice on the part of the defendant or a statement of a present sense impression. Plaintiff urged that the statement is not being introduced for its truth, but rather to prove that the defendant had notice of the spill.

The court agreed with the plaintiff and the court case will continue past the summary judgment phase. This case illustrates the critical importance of being able to prove a defendant knew or should have known of the defect causing the spill. Slip and fall plaintiffs often struggle to meet this element, which could be met through introduction of customer testimony, security footage, incident reports, and much more. Your attorney can help you to prepare your evidence so that your case can survive summary judgment.

Posted in: Slip and Fall Accidents