Late last month, the Nebraska State Supreme Court affirmed a lower court’s decision granting a grocery store summary judgment in a personal injury lawsuit brought by an injured patron. According to the opinion, a customer injured herself after she slipped on a piece of watermelon on the store’s floor.
Apparently, there were individuals in the grocery store providing watermelon samples at the time of the accident. The injured woman claimed that the store was negligent in several ways and that the store’s negligence resulted in her injuries. The grocery store moved for summary judgment and argued that they did not know of or create the dangerous condition. The lower court agreed with the defense and stated that although it was clear that watermelon samples were being distributed by the grocery store, that alone was insufficient to support a claim for negligence.
The plaintiff appealed this decision to the state supreme court. The plaintiff argued that the grocery store should have known that a customer may have dropped the watermelon. However, the court held that one could not reasonably conclude that the grocery store created the hazardous condition or even knew about it. The court found that, despite the plaintiff’s contentions, there was no proof that the grocery store had constructive knowledge of the dropped watermelon. In sum, the court held that since there was no evidence that substantiated a claim of constructive knowledge or the creation of a dangerous condition, the lawsuit should be dismissed.