Heyl Royster

Nolan and Bayer Victorious at Oral Argument on a Motion for Summary Judgment

Posted on May 8, 2023 at 9:00 AM by Karl Bayer, Leah Nolan

Last week, Leah Nolan and Karl Bayer were victorious at oral argument on a motion for summary judgment in Kendall County. The case involved a slip and fall at a convenience store in Plano, Illinois, with the Complaint alleging one count of negligence and one count of premises liability.
In this case, the Plaintiff slipped and fell after entering the store for a second time. In her deposition, Plaintiff testified that the rainwater, tracked in from outside, squished from the floor mats in front of the door, which she alleged caused her to fall. Nolan and Bayer argued that because the rainwater was a natural accumulation, no duty to remove the water existed. Plaintiff filed a response, a motion for an extension of time to respond, and a surresponse in this matter.
In Plaintiff's surresponse, Plaintiff argued that the slippery nature of the floor made the floor defective. During oral arguments, the team at Heyl Royster put forth that there was no question of fact for the jury to consider because we knew the source of the water, what the Plaintiff slipped on, and that we had no duty to remove the natural accumulation. Plaintiff contended that the convenience store created a task to remove the slip hazard in their employee handbook, that the wet floor mat created an unnatural accumulation of water, and that the floor was defective.
The Heyl Royster team contradicted each of Plaintiff's arguments with common law. Namely, even if the convenience store created a duty to remove natural accumulation in its handbook (which was argued it did not), it would be wholly irrelevant because the law prescribes that even where a business creates a natural accumulation maintenance program, such a program does not create a duty to continue a voluntary undertaking to remove the natural accumulation. Additionally, many courts have held that rainwater squishing from a mat does not create an unnatural accumulation. Lastly, the team argued that Plaintiff failed to present any testimony or expert affidavit to support their theory that the floor was defective. Ultimately, the judge agreed with the defense's interpretation of the law.
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