Trachtman & Trachtman, LLP Obtains MSJ Victory in Premises Liability Matter

Facts: On February 11, 2010, an elderly female guest fell on a main aisle of a Target Store located in Riverside, California. As a result of her fall, the Plaintiff sustained several significant injuries including a broken ankle and a torn rotator cuff. Plaintiff testified that she fell because she stepped on something “sticky.” She was unable to provide any details whatsoever about the substance, including its composition, size and/or consistency.

Immediately after the fall, two independent third party witnesses arrived to the scene followed by several Target Team Members. Both independent witnesses and Target’s employees examined the floor and found no substance, debris or object in proximity to the fall location which could have caused Plaintiff’s fall. NOTE: Plaintiff had a significant history for self-caused falls.

Prior to Plaintiff’s fall, the two independent witnesses walked through the subject fall location and found the floor to be free of any defects. Further, a Target Team Member had inspected the floor surface within 15 minutes of the fall and also confirmed that it was clean and dry.

Ben Trachtman defended the matter. Matt Vande Wydeven and Ryan Craig provided assistance and took on the primary role of filing a MSJ in Federal Court on the basis that there was no dangerous condition and that Target had no notice assuming, arguendo, that there was a triable issue of fact regarding the floor condition.

Outcome: In a 26-page written decision, U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Phillips granted our MSJ on the grounds that Plaintiff failed to meet Plaintiff’s burden of proof that Target had notice of the purported dangerous condition. Plaintiff attempted to introduce an expert declaration from an oft-used Plaintiff’s premises liability expert to claim that Target failed to conduct reasonable inspections (and was therefore on notice) because Target did not have written proof of such inspections via sweep sheets. The Court rejected Plaintiff’s expert’s declaration and found that Plaintiff failed to meet her burden by introducing adequate evidence to support her negligence claims.