Summary judgment for Wal-Mart in slip-and-fall case reversed and remanded

By Sam Knef | Mar 21, 2017

NEW ORLEANS — A woman's slip-and-fall case against Wal-Mart has been given new life at the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

In a ruling handed down on March 8, the appeals court reversed and remanded the injury case to the Western District of Louisiana, finding that there were multiple disputes of material fact in the lower court's summary-judgment ruling for Wal-Mart.

The case was originally brought by plaintiff Amanda Riggio, who claimed injuries from slipping on water that had leaked onto the floor from a “negligently maintained roof” in September 2012, according to court documents. Riggio died and was replaced as plaintiff by the administratrix of her estate, Loring Deshotel, the court record stated.

Both parties acknowledged that the store's roof leaked, but they did not agree as to the leaks' size and frequency of occurrence Riggio claimed that the leaks were throughout the store, but Wal-Mart claimed they were confined to “a few discrete areas where new skylights had been installed.” Wal-Mart further claimed that there was no evidence the water Riggio slipped on came from its roof.

Riggio's lawsuit alleged that injuries from slipping on water that leaked from the roof that Wal-Mart negligently maintained entitled her to an award of damages.

In its summary-judgment motion, the store argued that Riggio could not prove a necessary element for a negligence claim — that being that the store had “actual or constructive notice of the condition” that caused the damage before the occurrence.

The appeals-court panel, which included Judges Jerry Smith, Edith Clement and Leslie Southwick, found that based on the evidence presented, a "reasonable jury" could have found that the store's leaking roof caused Riggio’s fall.

"That is enough for her to survive summary judgment on this point," Smith wrote.

“We place no limitation on the matters the district court may address and decide on remand, nor do we suggest what are the ultimate merits of Riggio’s claim,” the ruling stated.

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