In Brown v. Stroud Mall, the plaintiff was employed as an assistant manager in a shoe store in the Stroud Mall. Following her afternoon shift, the plaintiff walked down a publicly accessible hallway toward the entrance that led to the parking lot. When plaintiff stepped into the hallway, her foot became entangled in a wire strung across the hall.
Afterwards, she began experiencing pain in her right leg and knee, and underwent physical therapy and later surgery. Despite the surgery, the plaintiff continued to experience pain and difficulty walking. Eventually, she quit working due to pain and difficulty walking.
Plaintiff filed suit against the mall, and the defense filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that plaintiff could not establish that defendants had actual or constructive notice of the wire. Particularly, defendants pointed to the presence of security staff in the hallway within the hour of the incident, and argued that this led to the conclusion that the wire did not exist for such a period of time that it could have been discovered through the exercise of reasonable care.
In deciding the motion for summary judgment, the court noted that reasonable minds could differ as to whether defendants had constructive notice, and denied the motion. The court stated that Stroud Mall was large and the hallway was open to the public. The security personnel routinely patrolled the mall, including the hallway at issue but a jury could determine defendants should have had more security on duty or patrolled more often. Therefore, there was a genuine issue of material fact for the jury to decide on the issue of constructive notice.
Thanks to Alexandra Perry for her contribution to this post and please write to Mike Bono if you would like more information.