Trachtman & Trachtman, LLP Wins MSJ for Target

Facts: On February 23, 2016 at approximately 6:50 p.m. at the Target Store located in Garden Grove, California, Plaintiff slipped and fell on a brown makeup spill on the floor as she walked down the main aisle in front of a luggagee endcap. Plaintiff claimed to have sustained injuries to her neck, hip, left shoulder and low back, including a compression fracture at L2.

There was video footage of the area. While the camera angle did not capture the actual creation of the makeup spill, it did capture the actions of three unknown shoppers immediately after the spill (the aftermath) which we used to establish that the spill was created a mere 2½ minutes before Plaintiff fell. Specifically, the video showed the three unknown shoppers stop at the subject endcap. Then, one shopper appeared to swipe/clean her foot on a carpeted area. Another one of those shoppers bent down to the floor, twice, each time appearing to pick up spill remnants [glass bottle pieces]. That same shopper then walked to the next aisle and placed the material that she had picked up from the floor on a nearby shelf and left the area.

Approximately 2½ minutes later, Plaintiff approached the subject area in front of the luggage endcap and slipped and fell. Thus, the spill only existed 2½ minutes and as a matter of law, this is not long enough for Target, in the exercise of reasonable care, to have discovered and remedied the spill.

The Plaintiff attempted to introduce purported expert testimony in the areas of accident reconstruction and video surveillance to argue that the actions of the unknown shoppers did not establish that those shoppers created the spill. Plaintiff’s claimed expert further opined/speculated that because Target did not introduce evidence of a recent inspection and only maintained three minutes of video prior to the incident, the actual time that the spill was created was likely well before the subject shoppers approached.

The Court excluded the attempted expert testimony, finding that the expert was not sufficiently qualified to render such opinions and further, said opinions were based purely on speculation and conjecture.

Outcome: The Court granted Target’s Motion for Summary Judgment finding that based on the uncontroverted video evidence and the reasonable inferences to be drawn therefrom, a reasonable trier of fact would find that the spill occurred 2½ minutes before Plaintiff fell and thus, Plaintiff cannot establish that Target had constructive notice of the spill.