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Slippery When Wet
by Ron Davis

The victim in a slip-and-fall accident that occurred at an Atlanta-area shopping center has failed to prove that the center’s owner created a hazard that caused her fall.

The shopping center owner is Fourth Quarter Properties, and the scene of the accident was near the entrance of a Target Corp. store located there. The victim had gone to the center to visit the Target store, but as she stepped onto a concrete incline leading to Target’s doorway, she fell, seriously injuring her left wrist and shoulder.

A light rain was falling at the time, and the woman claimed that the cause of the accident “was the slick, yellow painted surface of the incline which when moistened by the rain created a slip-and-slide ready to hurt whomever stepped onto it.”

She therefore sued the shopping center owner and Target on grounds that the incline was defective in its design or construction, or both.

The woman did not, however, offer any concrete evidence that the shopping center owner violated any rules, laws or standards related to the incline. Nor did she prove the existence of a hazard with any evidence that others had fallen at that spot.

A Georgia court therefore dismissed the lawsuit. The woman appealed.

A Georgia appellate court also ruled in favor of the shopping center, explaining, “The fact that the woman fell does not establish that the shopping center owner created or maintained a defective surface. The fact that the surface may have become slippery in the rain also fails to establish any defect…. In the absence of any evidence that the incline was negligently constructed or maintained, that the incline stood in violation of some applicable building code or standard, or that other people had fallen there, the injured woman simply failed to present proof of a defect or hazard.” (Cohen v. Target Corp., 567 S.E.2d 733 [Ga.App. 2002])

Decision: July 2002
Published: September 2002



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