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Florida Third DCA finds affirms summary judgment for grocery store in premises liability slip and fall case, finds that that evidence that transitory substance was on floor for less than five minutes was insufficient to impute constructive knowledge to defendant

On September 8, 2021, in De Los Angeles v. Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc., No. 3D19-2520, the Florida Third DCA appealed a summary judgment entered in favor of the defendant grocery store in a premises liability case. The plaintiff claimed that she fell and was injured after slipping on some liquid detergent on the floor in an aisle containing laundry detergent products. The plaintiff testified in deposition that the substance must have been on the floor for at least three to five minutes, because that’s how long she was in the aisle alone before the incident occurred. According to the deposition of Winn-Dixie store manager, an employee had checked that area of the store five minutes before the incident occurred. The Third DCA cited Fla. Stat. § 768.0755, which provides that a business owner must be proven to have had actual or constructive knowledge of a transitory foreign substance to be liable and that constructive knowledge may be proven by circumstantial evidence showing that (a) the dangerous condition existed for such a length of time that, in the exercise of ordinary care, the business establishment should have known of the condition; or (b) The condition occurred with regularity and was therefore foreseeable. The Court concluded that the undisputed material facts, viewed in a light most favorable to plaintiff, were insufficient to impute constructive knowledge to Winn-Dixie.