Proving Notice of a Dangerous Slip and Fall Condition Like a Puddle

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In Pennsylvania, customers or patrons who sue a business in a slip and fall case must show that the business owner was negligent. Negligence can be shown by proving actual or constructive notice. Actual notice is proven by some evidence that the owner either knew about the dangerous condition or created the condition. This can be through a manager’s testimony that he or she saw the dangerous condition prior to the incident.

Philadelphia, PA Slip and Fall Law – Constructive Notice

The other type of notice under Pennsylvania slip and fall law is constructive notice.  This means that the owner would have known about the dangerous condition if it had exercised reasonable care.

In Timberlake v. Target, a recent Pennsylvania federal court case, the District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania found in favor of a customer who slipped on a large puddle of baby vomit near the store entrance. Video surveillance showed that seven minutes after a baby vomited on the floor, the plaintiff slipped and fell on it. The video footage also showed that various store employees were near the vicinity of the vomit before the plaintiff fell. The court held that the seven minute gap between the creation of the puddle and the fall may have been enough time to impute constructive notice to Target.

The time, in and of itself, was not the deciding factor. Rather, the court zeroed in on the fact that various store employees were standing in the exact area of the puddle before plaintiff fell and none of them did anything about the large puddle. Facts such as these are what create a stronger argument that a store owner had constructive notice of a dangerous condition.

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Published: June 21, 2012