United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
E. OTT, CHIEF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Amanda Adams Dalton brings this premises liability action
against Defendant Target Corporation to recover for injuries
she suffered when she slipped on a puddle of liquid on the
floor in a Target store and fell. (Doc. 1-1 at
4-6). The case was originally filed in the
Circuit Court of Jefferson County and removed to this court
by Defendant. (Doc. 1). Pending before the
court is Target's motion for summary
judgment, (doc. 26), along with its brief and evidence in
support of the motion, (docs. 27-28). Plaintiff filed a brief
in opposition to summary judgment, (doc. 31), and Defendant
filed a brief in reply, (doc. 33). The motion is now ripe for
decision and due to be granted in full for the reasons that
STATEMENT OF FACTS
February 11, 2016, Plaintiff entered the Target store in
Homewood, Alabama, with her mother. (Doc. 28-1 (“Dalton
Dep.”) at 15). She came up the escalator at the front
of the store and turned to the right to walk toward the
restroom which was located at the other end of the front of
the store, past the checkout lanes. (Id. at 15-17).
When she was in front of checkout lane twelve, Plaintiff stepped
in a puddle of white liquid, slipped, and fell to the floor.
(Id. at 17-18, 21). The incident report notes the
time of the fall as 3:50 p.m. (Doc. 28-2 at 6).
did not see the puddle before she stepped in it and fell.
(Dalton Dep. at 18). After she fell, she noticed a wet spot
on her pants and on the toe of her shoe. (Id. at
21). She looked around and noticed an approximately six-inch
wide puddle that appeared to be a dairy product, such as milk
or cream. (Id. at 21-22). In describing the small
puddle, Plaintiff stated:
I could see where I had slid through it. I could see a ring
around it, you know when milk or cream, a dairy product
starts to dry it starts to kind of get a clear hard ring
around it, it had that ring around it and little drops
leading off too - later we followed the drops all the way to
(Id. at 22). With regard to the droplets, Plaintiff
testified that “[t]hey were dirty” and “had
been tracked through.” (Id. at 24).
Target employee immediately came to help Plaintiff when she
fell. (Id. at 19-20). Additionally, someone came and
cleaned up the liquid on the floor. (Id. at 26-27).
Once she regained her bearings, Plaintiff stood and went to
the restroom and “knew immediately something was not
right with [her] left leg and left hip.” (Id.
at 24, 35-36). Before leaving the store, she completed an
incident report. (Id. at 25).
Target Policies and Procedures
employees are responsible for identifying and cleaning up
spills. (Doc. 28-3 (“Wallace Dep.”) at 15-17,
21-22; Doc. 28-2 (“Warren Decl.”) ¶10). As
they perform their assigned tasks, employees are required to
look out for spills or other substances on the floor that
could pose a hazard to customers. (Wallace Dep. at 29-30;
Warren Decl. ¶9). Cashiers are trained to observe their
areas for spills and immediately clean spills when detected.
(Wallace Dep. at 16, 29-30, 40-41). Target Team Leaders and
Executive Team Leaders also continually walk the sales floor
to ensure that the store is safe and secure. (Id. at
16-17). Target staffs its stores to ensure that there are
sufficient employees to ensure guest safety. (Id. at
44-45). Even during busy times, Target stores are staffed so
that any spills or hazards should not remain unnoticed for
longer than five minutes. (Id. at 22-23, 44-45).
given day, not including the Christmas holidays, there are
approximately 60 employees working in the building, in all
departments. (Id. at 29). The front portion of the
store is managed by the guest service team leader.
(Id. at 25). The guest service team leaders are
responsible for helping customers, managing employees going
on break, helping cashiers with overrides or changes, and the
like. (Id. at 25-27, 37). Additionally, they are
required to “constantly” “go up and down
the lanes and . . . make sure guests get to the place
they're supposed to be at by they also, you know, are
there is observe what's going on in the front end.”
(Id. at 25-26, 37). Additionally,
“executive” employees are supposed “to be
in every corner of the store every 15 minutes” and
“spend 15 minutes in each area” of the store.
(Id. at 18).
Target employee sees a spill or other hazard, the employee is
trained and required to immediately stop what he or she is
doing, remain by the spill to warn customers, and radio
another employee for assistance with cleaning up the spill.
(Id. at 12-23; Warren Decl. ¶ 11). Another
Target employee then brings the appropriate cleaning supplies
to the area and the area is cleaned. (Warren Decl. ¶11).
Target employees are trained to never walk away from a spill
once they detect it. (Wallace Dep. at 12-23).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c), summary judgment is
proper “if the pleading 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 seeking
summary judgment bears the initial burden of informing the
court of the basis for its motion and identifying the
portions of the pleadings or filings which it believes
demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.
Id. at 323. Once the movant has met its initial
burden, the non-moving party must go beyond the pleading and
by his own affidavits, or by ...