Florida District Court of Appeal Reviews Emergency Room Slip And Fall

Personal injury litigation presents challenges at every turn. After a lawsuit is filed, parties often submit motions before trials are scheduled, seeking various types of relief from default judgment to dismissal. In a recent case (No. 2D15-0834), the Third District Court of Appeal reviewed a summary judgment for the defendants in a slip and fall lawsuit. The court agreed with the defendants that there was no genuine issue of material fact for a fact-finder to decide, and it dismissed the case against the hospital and cleaning company.  The injured woman, who suffered a slip and fall accident in the emergency room hallway of a hospital, appealed the decision.

The accident occurred when the woman arrived at the emergency room to assist her mother. Upon arrival, she found her mother resting and learned that she would need to be admitted to the hospital once a bed was open. After five hours had passed, the woman decided to find someone to determine how much longer they’d have to wait, and she saw what she believed to be an EMS paramedic with a spray bottle in the hallway cleaning a stretcher. The woman attempted to go around but then slipped and fell on what she “guessed” was spray liquid. The woman filed suit against the hospital, the housekeeping system, and the Risk Management Division of the county.

Throughout the litigation, the injured woman provided statements about who she thought was in the hallway and what she thought caused her to slip. The injured woman stated that the person cleaning the stretcher “may be a rescue” and also testified that there were no signs indicating the floor would be wet. She acknowledged that she didn’t see any mops, mop buckets, or food service items. She also stated that the substance smelled like a pine-scented cleaning product, and she wasn’t sure how long the substance was on the floor. The hospital and cleaning company moved for summary judgment, based on the lack of evidence that either of them knew or should have known of the slippery condition. Both the hospital and the cleaning company argued they employed staff to ensure the spaces were kept clean and clear, and they implemented a schedule to systematically check and clean surfaces.

The appellate court looked at case law for slip and fall lawsuits. When someone falls on a transitory foreign substance in a business establishment, the injured person must show that the hospital had actual or constructive knowledge of the dangerous condition. The foreign substance must exist on the walking surface for a length of time that goes beyond the time for ordinary care. The appellate court agreed with the lower court’s determination that there was not enough proof to show the floor had been slippery for a length of time beyond the point at which either party should have known about it and cleaned it up. The summary judgment was upheld, and the dismissal remained in place.

The Florida slip-and-fall attorneys at Donaldson & Weston have the legal knowledge and experience you need to maximize the damages you deserve. Our office is familiar with all of the typical personal injury challenges an injured plaintiff faces during litigation, and we will gladly help you push back against each and every defense tactic. Call today for a free, confidential consultation at 772-266-5555 or 561-299-3999.