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Premises Liability: Monroe vs. Wal-Mart

Slip and fall injuries are a type of personal injury that falls under a larger umbrella term called "premises liability." Slip and fall injuries are not always clear as we see in Monroe vs. Wal-Mart, Inc. Let's explore.

According to the document from the United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit, Josephine Monroe experienced a slip and fall injury at a Wal-Mart in Louisiana. Specifically, Ms. Monroe slipped in a puddle of soda which was spilled by an employee of the soda company. Who is at fault?

  • The incident occurred in Wal-Mart.
  • The unsafe situation was not created by a Wal-Mart employee
  • The jury for this case only found Wal-Mart responsible for 5 percent at fault. They found the soda company responsible for 95 percent at fault.

It seems like a clear cut case and that the jury was correct. However, that is not the case as the plaintiff appealed the ruling. This is why a personal injury lawyer is so important.

The documents point out that:

"The jury violated Louisiana law by failing to place upon Wal-Mart the primary duty for keeping its floors in a safe condition." [1]

The grounds for appeal are found in "Under Article 9:2800.6 of the Louisiana Revised Statutes, a merchant owes a duty to its customers to keep its floors in a reasonably safe condition."

Oddly enough, Monroe did not win her appeal. Mostly because the court documents showed that Wal-mart had done everything in its power to act and that the spilled soda had not been on the floor long enough for Wal-Mart to act. Further, the court document shows that the soda employee guarded the spill, and allowed Monroe to step in the soda when they moved out of her way. The verdict remains 5 percent fault for Wal-Mart and 95 percent fault for the soda company.

This case shows how complex slip-and-fall cases can be. Even with the Louisiana state statute about "a merchant owes a duty to its customers to keep its floors in a reasonably safe condition." was not enough to sway the jury or the appeals court. The jury awarded Monroe $25,000 in damages, of which Wal-Mart was responsible for only $1,500. The soda company settled out of court for an undisclosed amount.

The Truitt Law Firm has extensive experience defending slip and fall cases like this one. We also have represented some personal injury clients in select cases against retailers whom we do not represent. On either side of the fence, it is important to have an experienced law firm, like The Truitt Law Firm.

Resources:

[1] No. 92-3295 Monroe vs. Wal-Mart - UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FIFTH CIRCUIT

Source:

https://www.ca5.uscourts.gov/opinions/unpub/92/92-3295.0.wpd.pdf

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