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ARTICLE ID 21200

$________ Slip and fall - Plaintiff alleges slippery floor created hazardous condition at Depford Mall in Gloucester County - Defendant contends the area where plaintiff fell was kept clean.

Camden County

The female plaintiff, 49 years old on the date of the accident on September 11, ________, alleged that she slipped on a white creamy substance that was on the floor some 20 feet from an ice cream stand in the mall owned by the defendant Depford Mall. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant was negligent in failing to maintain the floors in a safe condition. Regarding damages, the plaintiff claimed she suffered a disc herniation at C6-C7 and a shoulder contusion. The plaintiff was under the care of a chiropractor and orthopedist for approximately 10 months. The plaintiff contended that she suffered residual back and shoulder pain. She was not working at the time of the accident.

The main issue in this slip and fall case, was whether the defendant needed notice of the hazardous condition caused by the spillage on the mall floor or whether the defendant did not require actual notice because the plaintiff slipped and fell in an area near an ice cream stand and a food court, where spillage should be expected. The evidence obtained during discovery indicated that the plaintiff fell 20 feet from an ice cream stand and in the vicinity of a food court. Although, the plaintiff never found out exactly what she slipped on, it was a creamy white substance which the plaintiff assumed was ice cream. The plaintiff maintained that the evidence revealed that the defendant’s security guards did not patrol the vicinity of the food court as frequently as they should have, given the probability of spillage created by the high volume of people visiting the mall. In arguing that the defendant did not require notice in order to be liable for a slippery surface 20 feet from the source, the plaintiff relied upon a January 22, ________, case, Nisivoccia vs. Glass Gardens, Inc. , which expanded the holding in Wollerman . In Wollerman, the court concluded that when there is a substantial risk of injury inherent in a business operator’s method of doing business, the plaintiff is relieved of showing actual notice. In Nisivoccia, the Appellate Division expanded the area covered by a presumption of an inherent risk of injury. In that case the plaintiff had slipped on a grape that had fallen around the checkout counter, and the Appellate Division concluded that the supermarket did not need actual notice to be liable, reasoning that the inherent risk of injury from slipping on produce existed not only in the produce section, but in other areas of the supermarket as well. p 7 3 The defendant disputed the existence of an unsafe condition. It contended that its security guards routinely patrolled the mall and that the guards had been in the area where the plaintiff alleged she fell and had not observed any spillage on the floor.

In addition, regarding the plaintiff’s damages, while conceding the plaintiff had minimal shoulder problems as a result of the fall, the defendant argued that the plaintiff’s fall was not the proximate cause of her disc herniation. The defendant maintained that the plaintiff had a preexisting back condition. The plaintiff countered that the preexisting back problems were in a different area of the plaintiff’s back.

The case settled for $________ the day of trial before a judge was assigned to hear the case. The defendant’s insurance carrier was Selective Insurance Co.

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