Although premises liability cases often do not lend themselves to summary judgment, firm associate Tracey Pruiett scored a recent victory when the Georgia Court of Appeals granted summary judgment in favor of a grocery store in a slip and fall case.
Ingles Markets, Inc. v. Rhodes involved a plaintiff who slipped and fell on grease or oil just ten minutes after a store manager had inspected the area and found it clear of hazards. The plaintiff argued there was still a question of fact as to when the aisle was last inspected because the oil “looked like it had been there a while… [and] was trying to dry up.” In deciding a motion for summary judgment, a finding that may be inferred but is not demanded by circumstantial evidence has no probative value against other, contrary direct evidence. The Court of Appeals found that the plaintiff’s vague assertions about the appearance of the oil did not necessarily contradict the manager’s testimony that the aisle was spill-free ten minutes earlier. Moreover, the Court of Appeals held that because an inspection occurred a short time before the incident, the store’s inspection procedure was adequate as a matter of law.
How often should inspections be conducted? That will vary based on the nature of the business, the size of the store, the number of customers, the nature of the potential dangerous conditions, and the store’s location. However, when a business can produce evidence that an inspection was conducted 10-15 minutes prior to a fall, the inspection procedure will likely be deemed adequate as a matter of law. In some cases, even inspections 20 or 30 minutes prior to a fall have been found adequate.
Businesses conducting and documenting regular inspections of their premises is important. If you need help developing your inspection policy or have other questions about the inspection of your store, please give us a call.
 2017 WL 1013660 (Ct. App., March 15, 2017).
 Mazur v. Food Giant, 183 Ga. App. 453, 454, 359 S.E.2d 178 (1987).
 See also, Brown v. Host/Taco Joint Venture, 305 Ga. App. 248, 252, 699 S.E.2d 439 (2010).
 See, id.; Adamchick v. Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, 281 Ga. App. 677, 637 S.E.2d 44 (2006); Super Discount Mkts. V. Clark, 213 Ga. App. 132, 133-134, 443 S.E.2d 876 (1994); Roberson v. Winn-Dixie Atlanta, 247 Ga. App. 825, 826, 544 S.E.2d 494 (2001); Mazur v. Food Giant, supra at 454.
 See, Youngblood v. All American Quality Foods, Inc., 338 Ga. App. 817, 820, 792 S.E.2d 417 (2016) (inspection 20 minutes before incident was adequate as a matter of law) and Hopkins v. Kmart Corp., 232 Ga. App. 515, 502 S.E. 2d 476 (1998) (summary judgment appropriate where store inspected area around checkout lanes 30 minutes before incident).
Tracey Pruiett routinely advises businesses, individuals, insurance carriers and self-insured corporations on issues related to civil litigation with a concentration in the defense of premises liability, products liability, and personal injury actions. She has successfully tried jury cases in state courts across metro Atlanta.
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