Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Williams v. Walgreen Co.

United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division

April 26, 2018

EDWIN WILLIAMS, Plaintiff,
v.
WALGREEN CO., Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER [1]

          STACI G. CORNELIUS U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         The court has before it the September 29, 2017 motion for summary judgment filed by Defendant Walgreen Co. (Doc. 16). Pursuant to the court's initial order, the motion is fully briefed and under submission as of November 3, 2017. (Doc. 9; see Docs. 19-21). The motion is due to be granted in part and denied in part for the following reasons.

         I. STATEMENT OF MATERIAL FACTS

         On October 14, 2017, at about 4:15 or 4:30 in the afternoon, Plaintiff and his wife, both age 76, walked towards the Walgreens store located in Gardendale, Alabama, through the parking lot outside the store. (Doc. 16-1 at 4, 7; Doc. 20-4 at 2). The couple approached the wheelchair ramp leading from the parking lot to the sidewalk around the drug store. (Doc. 20-4 at 2). As they walked toward the ramp, Plaintiff tripped and fell. (Doc. 16-1 at 8). At the time, he did not know what caused him to fall. (Id.). Plaintiff fell onto his face and hit the left side of his head. (Id. at 11). Although Plaintiff fell next to a support beam pillar, he denies he struck the pillar when he fell.[2] (Id. at 9). Plaintiff contends he was unconscious for a moment. (Id. at 12). He sustained bruises and scratches to his body, as well as a deep gash over his left eye. (Id. at 11, 17). The medical records show Plaintiff suffered a traumatic small subarachnoid hemorrhage and a subdermal hematoma. (Doc. 20-8 at 2).

         The next day, after Plaintiff was discharged from the hospital, he and his wife returned to the parking lot to determine what caused Plaintiff to fall. (Doc. 16-1 at 10). In the area where Plaintiff fell, Plaintiff saw a small concrete pad, lighter in color than the asphalt surrounding it. (Doc 20-1 at 2-4). On top of that concrete pad, there is a small change in elevation where a circular device is located. (Id.). The purpose of the device is unknown. (Doc. 16 at 5). Plaintiff concluded one of his feet must have gotten caught on the “little lip” of the circular device, causing him to fall. (Doc. 16-1 at 8, 10, 15-16).

         Plaintiff testified there was nothing to block his view of the circular device, “[o]ther than the fact that it was all covered with a lot of black paint or grease or something.” (Id. at 9). He further stated, “[i]t wasn't clear to where it would be easily seen” and, although the circular device was not level with the pavement, it “appeared to be even or level with the surface of the asphalt parking lot when [he] looked at it due to the black paint or grease [or] other substance on it.”[3] (Id.; Doc. 20-4 at 4).

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c), summary judgment is proper “if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). The party asking for summary judgment always bears the initial responsibility of informing the court of the basis for its motion and identifying those portions of the pleadings or filings which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Id. at 323. Once the moving party has met its burden, Rule 56(e) requires the non-moving party to go beyond the pleadings and by his own affidavits, or by the depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, designate specific facts showing there is a genuine issue for trial. See Id. at 324.

         The substantive law identifies which facts are material and which are irrelevant. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). All reasonable doubts about the facts and all justifiable inferences are resolved in favor of the non-movant. See Fitzpatrick v. City of Atlanta, 2 F.3d 1112, 1115 (11th Cir. 1993). A dispute is genuine “if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. If the evidence is merely colorable, or is not significantly probative, summary judgment may be granted. See id. at 249.

         III. DISCUSSION

         Plaintiff's complaint alleges two claims against Walgreens under Alabama law: negligence and wantonness. (Doc. 1-1 at 6-10). Defendant contends summary judgment is proper as to both claims. The court agrees with Defendant as to the wantonness claim but disagrees as to the negligence claim for the following reasons.

         A. Plaintiff's Negligence Claim

         To prevail on a claim for negligence under Alabama law, “a plaintiff must establish that the defendant breached a duty owed by the defendant to the plaintiff and that the breach proximately caused injury or damage to the plaintiff.” Kmart Corp. v. Bassett, 769 So.2d 282, 284 (Ala. 2000) (quoting Lowe's Home Centers, Inc. v. Laxson, 655 So.2d 943, 945-46 (Ala. 1994)). The liability of a premises owner turns on the classification given to the injured party. Ex parte Mountain Top Indoor Flea Market, Inc., 699 So.2d 158, 161 (Ala. 1997). Because Plaintiff was a business invitee, Walgreens owed him a duty to “exercise reasonable care in maintaining [its] premises in a reasonably safe condition.” Bishop v. South, 642 So.2d 442, 445 (Ala. 1994).

         The duty of a premises owner to an invitee “is limited to hidden defects which are not known to the invitee and would not be discovered by him in the exercise of ordinary care.” Harvell v. Johnson, 598 So.2d 881, 883 (Ala. 1992). This duty requires a premises owner to “warn of hidden defects and dangers that are known to it, but that are unknown or hidden to the invitee.” Raspilair v. Bruno's Food Stores, Inc., 514 So.2d 1022, 1024 (Ala. 1987). In other words, the duty is limited to hidden defects; if a dangerous condition is open and obvious so that the invitee should be aware of it through the exercise of reasonable care, then the owner or occupier of the premises has no duty to warn the invitee. Lilya v. Greater Gulf State Fair, Inc.,855 So.2d 1049, 1054-55 (Ala. 2003). “A condition is ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.