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Wilson v. Wal-Mart Inc

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Columbia Division

June 2, 2016

Bobby Jane Wilson, Plaintiff,
v.
Wal-Mart, Inc., Defendant.

          ORDER

          Joseph F. Anderson, Jr. United States District Judge

         This case arises from a slip and fall personal injury sustained by Plaintiff Bobby Jane Wilson ("Wilson") while she was a patron at a Sumter, South Carolina location of the Defendant Wal-Mart Inc. ("Wal-Mart"). Plaintiff alleged a sole cause of action of negligence against Defendant. Defendant has filed a motion for summary judgment per Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure claiming that Plaintiff’s sole cause of action of negligence should be dismissed.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On May 11, 2013, Plaintiff entered a Wal-Mart store located at 1283 Broad Street, Sumter, South Carolina with a companion, John Taylor ("Taylor"). While Plaintiff was shopping in the store, she slipped and fell on a substance as she walked by the meat display case. Plaintiff testified that the substance that she slipped on was pinkish, covered approximately one inch of the floor, and was very close to the meat display case. Plaintiff further testified that she had no information to show that any Wal-Mart employees knew that the pinkish substance was on the floor prior to her incident.

         On February 2, 2015, Plaintiff filed a Complaint alleging that Defendant was negligent in (1) allowing a slippery substance to remain on the floor where customers were walking; (2) failing to warn Plaintiff that a slippery substance was on the floor; (3) failing to properly maintain the floor to prevent slippery substances from being on the floor, and (4) failing to inspect the area where Plaintiff fell. (ECF No. 1-1).

         On April 21, 2016, Defendant filed a motion for summary judgment. (ECF No. 21). Plaintiff timely filed a response in opposition to Defendant’s motion on May 4, 2016, and Defendant timely filed a reply to Plaintiff’s response. (ECF No. 23; ECF No. 25). On June 1, 2016, oral argument was held before this Court. (ECF No. 28). Therefore, this matter is ripe for review by the Court.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, summary judgment is proper when there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). A material fact is one that "might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law." Spriggs v. Diamond Auto Glass, 242 F.3d 179, 183 (4th Cir. 2001) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)). A dispute of material fact is "genuine" if sufficient evidence favoring the non-moving party exists for the trier of fact to return a verdict for that party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248-49.

         The moving party bears the initial burden of showing the absence of a genuine dispute of material fact. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. If the moving party meets that burden and a properly supported motion is before the court, the burden shifts to the non-moving party to "set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e); Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. All inferences must be viewed in a light most favorable to the non-moving party, but he "cannot create a genuine issue of material fact through mere speculation or the building of one inference upon another." Beale v. Hardy, 769 F.2d 213, 214 (4th Cir. 1985).

         III. ISSUES

         There are 2 issues that must be decided by the Court:

         A. Whether any genuine issue of material fact exists regarding whether Defendant created the hazard.

         B. Whether Defendant had any actual or constructive knowledge of the hazard prior to Plaintiff’s slip and fall.

         IV. ...


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