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Florida Third DCA reverses judgment for plaintiff in supermarket slip and fall case, finds insufficient evidence that supermarket knew of dangerous condition

On March 28, 2018, in Publix Super Markets v. Bellaiche, No. 3D16-1983, the Florida Third DCA reversed a trial court’s final judgment in a supermarket slip and fall case, finding that the trial court erred in not granting the defendant supermarket a directed verdict because there was no evidence that the defendant knew of or caused the dangerous condition resulting in the plaintiff’s injury. The Third DCA noted that pursuant to section 768.0755, Florida Statutes, the plaintiff was required to prove that Publix had actual or constructive knowledge of a dangerous condition created by a transient foreign substance that caused Bellaiche to slip and fall. See also Encarnacion v. Lifemark Hosps. of Fla., 211 So. 3d 275 (Fla. 3d DCA 2017). The plaintiff had conceded at trial that she was not proceeding under a theory of constructive knowledge, so the only issue was whether the supermarket had actual prior knowledge of the puddle of water that caused her fall. According to the Third DCA, the plaintiff’s only evidence that the store had actual knowledge was her testimony that after she fell she saw a man holding a mop. In dismissing this testimony, the Third DCA focused on the fact that video surveillance at the time showed the store’s janitor using only a broom and dustpan and that the store manager had testified that the store used only dry rayon mops to spot mop its floors.