In Correa v. Wooodman’s Food Market (2018AP1165), the Court of Appeals District I held that a plaintiff who slipped and fell in a grocery store lacked sufficient evidence to establish the store had constructive notice of the hazard.
Jose Correa slipped and fell on an unidentified substance in a Woodman’s store and subsequently filed negligence and safe place statute (Wis. Stat. § 101.11(1)) claims against Woodman’s. A trial court found Woodman’s negligent and awarded Correa nearly $170,000 in damages. Woodman’s appealed, arguing Correa’s evidence that Woodman’s had constructive notice of the spill was speculative.
The appeals court agreed that Correa’s evidence was speculative. The safe place statute and related case law require owners to have constructive knowledge of conditions causing the plaintiff’s injuries. Constructive notice means the condition existed for a long enough time period to allow the owner to discover and repair the condition.
In this case, Correa could not prove the spill existed for a long enough time period to establish Woodman’s was negligent. Video footage before the accident did not show a spill happening and could not identify any substance on the floor of the store. Because Correa lacked sufficient evidence, the court ruled in favor of Woodman’s.