Summary Judgment Ruled Improper in Slip and Fall Case Against Massachusetts Farm and Retail Store – Belanger v. Boys in Berries, LLC

Store owners, including those that own grocery stores, convenience markets, and other establishments selling food, have a responsibility to keep their premises in a reasonably safe condition. Although there are some general requirements, the specifics of what is considered “reasonable” can vary from case to case.

Generally, the term “reasonably safe condition” means that, at a minimum, a store or supermarket should keep its aisles clear and accessible, make sure its floors are clean and dry, and respond promptly should an employee or customer cause a spill or other issue compromising customer safety.

The Facts of the Case

In the recent unpublished decision of Belanger v. Boys in Berries, LLC, the plaintiff was a shopper at a farm store owned by one of the defendants and insured by the other. After the plaintiff tripped on a pallet and fell in the store, her husband and she brought a personal injury action against the defendant, seeking to recover damages for hip and shoulder fractures. The superior court granted summary judgment to the defendants, and the plaintiffs appealed.

The Decision of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Appeals Court

The appellate court reversed the lower court’s order. First, the court noted that summary judgment is appropriate only when there is no genuine issue of material fact between the parties. The court then noted that landowners owe a duty to maintain their property in a reasonably safe condition and that some of the factors to be considered in determining what is “reasonably safe” include the likelihood of injury, the seriousness of that injury, and the burden to avoid the risk of the injury.

After reviewing the facts of the underlying accident, the court found that, although the defendant’s use of a pallet may not have been unreasonably dangerous in and of itself, the manner in which the pallet was placed could present an genuine issue as to dangerousness. Although the court noted that the plaintiff’s case was not particularly strong, it opined that a reasonable jury could find that the defendant store created an unsafe condition by placing a box on top of an obscured pallet along the path between the checkout counter and the exit to the store.

Accordingly, the court remanded the case to the lower court for further proceedings.

For Legal Advice Concerning a Possible Cape Cod Slip and Fall Lawsuit

Slip and fall accidents are common. Recovering a fair settlement or judgment in such a case can be challenging under the best of circumstances, but it is extremely difficult without the assistance of a strong legal advocate. To talk to an experienced Cape Cod premises liability lawyer about your slip and fall, fall down, or trip and fall accident, call the Law Offices of John C. Manoog, III, at (888) 262-6664. If you cannot come into our Hyannis or Plymouth offices for a case evaluation, we will be glad to come to your home or hospital room to discuss your case.

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