Kentucky Court of Appeal Affirms Jury Verdict in Favor of Customer Who Slipped in “Oily Substance” at Mall

by Mandy Hicks

Those who own or operate businesses that are open to the public have certain responsibilities to keep their premises safe for those who come onto the property for a business purpose, such as to shop at a store or eat at a restaurant.

When this duty is breached, an injured person has the right to seek monetary compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering associated with the accident.

Facts of the Case

In an (unpublished) appellate case recently under consideration by the Commonwealth of Kentucky Court of Appeals, the plaintiff was a woman who allegedly slipped and fell in an “oily substance” that was on the floor in a common area of a mall, injuring her elbow and requiring her to have hip replacement surgery. She filed a premises liability lawsuit against the defendants, who owned and managed the mall property, in the Fayette Circuit Court.

The case was tried to a jury and resulted in a verdict for the plaintiff. The trial court denied the defendants’ motion for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV), and they appealed. As grounds, the defendants argued that the plaintiff had failed to meet her burden of establishing that there was a dangerous condition on the mall floor. According to the defendants’ view of the case, the trial court should have directed a verdict in their favor.

Decision of the Appellate Court

The court affirmed the trial court’s judgment and order upon the jury’s verdict, as well as its order denying the defendants’ JNOV motion. In so holding, the court rejected the defendants’ argument that the plaintiff’s evidence was “specious at best,” noting that the plaintiff did not merely hypothesize about the cause of her fall but instead, with her sworn testimony, established that “she indeed had an encounter with a foreign substance on the business premises.” According to the court, the plaintiff was not obligated to identify the substance, and thus her statement that there was “an oily substance on the mall floor” was sufficient to survive a motion for a directed verdict.

The court went on to say that a directed verdict is only appropriate when there is no conflict in the evidence or when the evidence is susceptible to only one interpretation. Here, it was the jury’s task to determine the weight and credibility to be given to the plaintiff’s testimony and the testimony of witnesses who testified for the defendant regarding the substance allegedly on the mall floor.

Schedule an Appointment to Discuss a Personal Injury Case

You should not have to suffer because of someone else’s negligence or reckless conduct. To find out more about the legal process of holding a negligent or reckless individual, business, or governmental entity liable for injuries that you or a loved one has suffered in a slip and fall or a car accident, call the knowledgeable injury attorneys at English, Lucas, Priest & Owsley, LLP at 270-781-6500. We represent clients throughout south central Kentucky and middle Tennessee, including in Bowling Green, Springfield, Franklin, and Clarksville,

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