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Georgia Court Determines Fast-Food Restaurant Did Not Have “Superior Knowledge” of Hazardous Condition that Allegedly Caused Plaintiff’s Fall

Earlier this month, a Georgia appellate court issued a written opinion in a premises liability lawsuit brought by a woman who slipped and fell after using the restroom in a fast-food restaurant. Ultimately, the court concluded that the plaintiff failed to establish that the fast-food restaurant had superior knowledge of the dangerous condition that allegedly caused the plaintiff’s fall. As a result, the plaintiff’s case was dismissed.

Slick FloorThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff dined at the defendant restaurant and then went to use the restroom. In a pre-trial deposition, the plaintiff explained that she entered the restroom and proceeded directly to the handicap stall. She did not see any water on the floor as she entered the stall. After about five or ten minutes, the plaintiff exited the stall, took about two steps, and then fell backwards. She had slipped after stepping in a puddle of water. The plaintiff sustained serious injuries as a result of her fall and filed a premises liability lawsuit against the restaurant.

In a pre-trial motion for summary judgment, the restaurant argued that the plaintiff’s case was insufficient as a matter of law because she failed to prove a required element of a Georgia premises liability lawsuit. Specifically, the restaurant argued that the plaintiff failed to show that the restaurant had superior knowledge of the hazard.

The “Superior Knowledge” Doctrine in Georgia Premises Liability Cases

The court began its analysis by clarifying that under Georgia law, “proof of a fall, without more, does not give rise to liability on the part of a proprietor.” In order to establish liability, a plaintiff must establish that the landowner had superior knowledge of the hazard that caused the plaintiff’s injury. A plaintiff can meet this requirement by showing that the landowner knew the hazard existed or should have known that it existed, given the surrounding circumstances.

The Court’s Decision

The court agreed with the restaurant that the plaintiff failed to show that the restaurant had superior knowledge of the wet floor. The court considered the plaintiff’s own testimony that the floor was not wet when she entered the restroom and that she was in the stall for a maximum of ten minutes. The court held that this “limited amount of time” was insufficient to establish that the restaurant should have known that the hazard existed.

On appeal, the plaintiff attempted to clarify that when she said the floor was not wet, she meant that she did not notice if it was wet or not. However, the court held that her testimony was clear, and it refused to consider an alternative interpretation of her statement.

Have You Been a Victim of a Georgia Slip-and-Fall Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Georgia slip-and-fall accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. Having the assistance of a dedicated attorney can drastically improve your chances of success. For example, the dedicated personal injury attorneys at McAleer Law will arrange to be present for all depositions to make sure that you are aware of the questions being asked and the importance of being clear and concise in your answers. Based on our years of experience, we can see right through the tactics that defense lawyers use to try to get their clients off the hook. To speak with an attorney today about your case, call 404-662-5337 to schedule a free consultation.

See More Posts:

Georgia Appellate Court Finds Accumulated Rainwater on Train Platform Is Not a Dangerous Condition, Georgia Injury Attorney Blog, May 1, 2017.

Undue Nit-picking by Georgia’s Court of Appeals?, Georgia Injury Attorney Blog, May 23, 2017.