Recently, a Pennsylvania court evaluated a grocery store’s liability for injuries caused by known or obvious conditions.
In Walker v. Save-a-Lot. Plaintiff was shopping in a grocery store when she tripped and fell on a pallet displaying cases of water in the middle of the frozen food aisle. Plaintiff walked toward the pallet on her way to the freezer and situated her cart adjacent to the pallet. After grabbing a frozen pizza, plaintiff stepped away from the freezer and tripped over the pallet.
Defendant sought summary judgment on the ground that the pallet created a known or obvious condition. Plaintiff claimed she did not see the pallet as she was focused on finding a frozen pizza. Surveillance footage showed that the plaintiff walked by one pallet displaying cases of water before she approached a second pallet displaying the same.
The court turned to prior decisions addressing the duty of care owed to invitees and concluded that it is established Pennsylvania law that a person must look where he is going, further explaining that customers are not relieved of this responsibility even if they are distracted by sales displays.
The court concluded that the fact that the plaintiff claims she did not see the pallet because she was focused on finding her frozen pizza does not excuse the fact that the pallet was a known or obvious condition that she failed to avoid by the exercise of ordinary care.
Thanks to Chelsea Rendelman for her contribution to this post and please write to Mike Bono for more information.