In a recent decision handed down by Honorable Martha L. Luft, Justice of the Supreme Court of Suffolk County, summary judgment was granted to Sobel Pevzner’s clients, Anonna Caterers Corporation. Plaintiff’s law suit was premised upon the theory that the defendant, in doing business hosting a wedding reception at a third party’s venue, were negligent in permitting a spillage of liquid to exist on the dance floor ultimately causing a “slip and fall” accident during the reception.
The Suffolk County Supreme Court reiterated the long standing rule that defendants who move for summary judgment have the burden of showing that they neither created the alleged dangerous condition, nor had actual or constructive notice of its existence. This analysis included the preliminary issue of when the accident location was last cleaned or inspected relative to the time when the plaintiff fell.
While plaintiff testified that she slipped, she could offer no testimony that she could personally identify the substance and/or source of what caused her to slip and fall. Furthermore, plaintiff could offer no proof as to how long the alleged substance had been present on the floor prior to plaintiff’s fall. Defendant’s offered testimony that confirmed its employees were told such spills should be cleaned immediately, but that the plaintiff slipped and fell almost simultaneously as to when the substance was spilled on the floor. The Court noted that there was no evidence presented that in any way could lead the court to determine that defendant created the condition which lead to plaintiff’s fall, or that defendant had actual notice or sufficient length of time to allow defendant to remedy the condition.
Additionally, plaintiff in attempting to raise a triable issue of fact, argued that defendant should still be liable as spilling drinks throughout the night on the wedding dance floor presented a recurring dangerous condition, putting the defendants on constructive notice. However, the Court noted that while the defendant may have been aware of wedding guests spilling drinks throughout the night, it does not obviate plaintiff’s burden to establish the defendant had actual or constructive notice of the particular condition which caused plaintiff to fall. Therefore, the Honorable Court determined the defendants had made a prima facie case for summary judgment, and that plaintiff had failed to submit any evidence in opposition to create a triable issue of fact, which would preclude the granting of summary judgment.