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Florida First DCA affirms trial court ruling in premises liability case that discovery of substance on the floor of the supermarket was insufficient to create a jury issue

On November 20, 2020, in Rodgers v. Publix Super Markets, Inc., No, 1D20-579, the Florida First DCA in a PCA decision affirmed a trial court ruling in a premises liability case that that the mere fact that a substance was found on the floor of the supermarket was insufficient to create a jury issue. In affirming the trial court’s decision, the First DCA noted several cases for the proposition that evidence of a substance, without some additional facts that would support a finding that the substance was on the floor for a sufficient length of time to put defendant on notice, was insufficient to create a jury issue. See Encarnacion v. Lifemark Hosps. of Fla., 211 So. 3d 275, 278 (Fla. 3d DCA 2017) (noting that plaintiff’s testimony that substance on the floor was “oily,” “dirty” and “dark” was insufficient to create a jury issue absent additional facts “from which a jury [could] reasonably conclude that the substance was on the floor long enough to have become discolored without assuming other facts”); Publix Super Mkts., Inc. v. Schmidt, 509 So. 2d 977, 978 (Fla. 4th DCA 1987) (holding there was “no proof that Publix or its employees were at fault, or that the substance was on the floor for a sufficient length of time to put defendant on notice” and reversing jury’s verdict that impermissibly relied on “inferences on top of inferences” to explain customer’s fall); Palavicini v. Wal-Mart Stores E., LP., 787 F. App’x 1007, 1012 (11th Cir. 2019) (finding testimony that liquid on the floor appeared to be “yellow” and “dirty” was not enough to establish constructive notice and noting lack of evidence of footprints, prior track marks, drying of liquid, etc. that would tend to show liquid had been on the floor for a sufficient amount of time).

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