Constructive Notice Caught On Tape (NJ)

In the recent decision of Marina Andara v. Wal-Mart Stores East, New Jersey’s appellate court relied on surveillance footage of the plaintiff’s accident to rule in favor of the plaintiff on the issue of constructive notice.  The plaintiff alleged that she fell due to water on the floor at Wal-Mart near the self service counter.  Surveillance footage of the incident showed the plaintiff’s fall and the subsequent clean-up by a Wal-Mart employee.

Wal-Mart moved for summary judgment, alleging that they did not have actual or constructive notice of water on the floor.  With their motion, Wal-Mart submitted an affidavit of an employee who asserted that she walked through the area five minutes before the plaintiff’s fall and there was no water on the floor.  The surveillance footage revealed that the employee was in the area, but did not necessarily confirm that an inspection had taken place.  Moreover, the footage did not show anything being spilled on the floor for at least an hour before the incident, leading one to believe that the wet condition existed for over an hour.

The appellate court found that, when viewing the facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, a rational jury could find that Wal-Mart had constructive notice of the water prior to plaintiff’s fall and reversed the lower court’s decision that had dismissed the plaintiff’s complaint.

Special thanks to Heather Aquino for her contributions to this post.  For more infromation, please contact Nicole Brown at nbrown@wcmlaw.com.