Sola v. Wal-Mart Stores East I L.P.
To prevail on a premises liability claim, a plaintiff must prove: 1.) a defect existed; 2.) the defendant knew about, or in the exercise of reasonable care should have known about, the defect; and 3.) the defect existed for sufficient length of time that the defendant should have discovered and remedied it. In October 2008, the plaintiff, Ricky Sola, went shopping at Wal-Mart in Rocky Hill, and allegedly slipped and fell on water or a slippery substance. Allegedly, a subcontractor was working to remodel part of the store, and that area of the store was inaccessible to customers. Sola sued and alleged that Wal-Mart knew, or should have known, that the floor was unsafe, and failed to remedy the condition or to warn customers. Sola presented evidence that a new finish had been placed on the floor in the lawn and garden area where he allegedly fell. No one observed the plaintiff fall, and one witness claimed that if the plaintiff had fallen in an area where a cleaning solution had been placed, the plaintiff's skin would have been burned. A jury concluded that Wal-Mart lacked actual or constructive notice of any unsafe condition. The plaintiff moved to set aside the defense verdict. "Wal-Mart," wrote the court, "had a duty to keep its premises in a reasonably safe condition but the plaintiff was required to prove that the defendant either had actual notice of the presence of the specific unsafe condition which caused his injury or constructive notice." The jury reasonably could have found that the area where the cleaning solution had been placed was inaccessible to customers. The plaintiff was the only witness, and the jury could have rejected his testimony about the alleged fall. The court denied the plaintiff's motion to set aside the verdict.