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Shields v. The Fresh Market, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. Florida

December 18, 2019




         THIS CAUSE is before the Court upon Defendant The Fresh Market's (“Defendant” or “Fresh Market”) Motion for Summary Judgment, ECF No. [93] (the “Motion”). Plaintiff Inderia Shields, LLC (“Plaintiff”) has failed to timely respond to the Motion.[1] The Court has carefully reviewed the Motion, the record, and is otherwise fully advised. For the reasons that follow, Defendant's Motion is granted.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff originally filed her Complaint in the Circuit Court in the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit in and for Broward County, Florida. See ECF No. [1-2]. The action was subsequently removed to federal court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction. ECF No. [1]. The facts giving rise to the instant action stem from Plaintiff's alleged slip and fall that occurred while she was at the Fresh Market store located at 12171 W. Sunrise Blvd., Plantation, Florida. (“Fresh Market Store”). Id. at 2. Plaintiff asserts a single claim of negligence against the Defendant. Id.

         Upon visiting the Defendant's business, Plaintiff claims she fell on water when she reached the floral department of the Fresh Market Store. ECF No. [93], at ¶ 1. Plaintiff has no personal knowledge of when the water arrived on the area of floor where she slipped. Id. at ¶ 9. Plaintiff has no personal knowledge of how much time had passed between the time the water first arrived on the floor and the time of her fall. Id. at ¶ 3. Plaintiff has no personal knowledge or evidence as to when the subject area had last been cleaned or inspected inside the Fresh Market Store. Id. at ¶ 5. Plaintiff has no personal knowledge of any other prior falls that occurred in the Fresh Market Store. Id. at ¶ 7. Fresh Market now moves for summary judgment and contends that no issue of material fact exists as it had no actual or constructive notice of the water on the floor of the Fresh Market Store, which is the subject of Plaintiff's claim. Id. at ¶ 10.


         A party may obtain summary judgment “if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). An issue is genuine if “a reasonable trier of fact could return judgment for the non-moving party.” Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Fla. v. United States, 516 F.3d 1235, 1243 (11th Cir. 2008) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986)). A fact is material if it “might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law.” Id. (quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 247-48). The Court views the facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draws all reasonable inferences in the non-moving party's favor. See Davis v. Williams, 451 F.3d 759, 763 (11th Cir. 2006). “The mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the plaintiff's position will be insufficient; there must be evidence on which a jury could reasonably find for the plaintiff.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252. Further, the Court does not weigh conflicting evidence. See Skop v. City of Atlanta, Ga., 485 F.3d 1130, 1140 (11th Cir. 2007) (quoting Carlin Comm'n, Inc. v. S. Bell Tel. & Tel. Co., 802 F.2d 1352, 1356 (11th Cir. 1986)).

         The moving party shoulders the initial burden of showing the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Shiver v. Chertoff, 549 F.3d 1342, 1343 (11th Cir. 2008). Once this burden is satisfied, “the nonmoving party ‘must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.'” Ray v. Equifax Info. Servs., L.L.C., 327 Fed.Appx. 819, 825 (11th Cir. 2009) (quoting Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986)). Instead, “the non-moving party ‘must make a sufficient showing on each essential element of the case for which he has the burden of proof.'” Id. (quoting Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986)). Accordingly, the non-moving party must produce evidence, going beyond the pleadings, and by its own affidavits, or by depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, designating specific facts to suggest that a reasonable jury could find in the non-moving party's favor. Shiver, 549 F.3d at 1343. Even “where the parties agree on the basic facts, but disagree about the factual inferences that should be drawn from those facts, ” summary judgment may be inappropriate. Warrior Tombigbee Transp. Co., Inc. v. M/V Nan Fung, 695 F.2d 1294, 1296 (11th Cir. 1983).


         In the instant Motion, Defendant seeks summary judgment on the basis that Plaintiff has failed to meet her burden under Florida Statutes, § 768.0755, Premises liability for transitory foreign substances in a business establishment. Defendants contend that Plaintiff has failed to establish that the Defendant had any notice of the hazardous condition prior to the Plaintiff's fall. ECF No. [93], at 6. Specifically, Defendant argues that there is no record evidence that it had actual or constructive knowledge of the water on the floor prior to Plaintiff's fall and therefore, there is no evidence that Defendant breached a duty. ECF No. [93], at 10. Because Plaintiff has failed to establish this essential element of her claim, Defendant argues that summary judgment in its favor is appropriate.

         Reviewing all facts and drawing all inferences in Plaintiff's favor, the Court agrees with the Defendant. There exists no material issue of fact in dispute. As a matter of law, Plaintiff has not established that Defendant had actual or constructive notice of the water on which she allegedly slipped. Thus, the Court agrees that summary judgment is appropriate.

         a. Premises Liability Standard

         In a diversity case, the Court must apply the substantive law of the state in which the case arose. See Pendergast v. Sprint Nextel Corp., 592 F.3d 1119, 1132-33 (11th Cir. 2010). For that reason, the Court looks to Florida negligence law. In a negligence claim, Florida law requires that a plaintiff prove the following four elements: (1) the defendant had a duty to conform to a certain standard of conduct; (2) the defendant breached that duty; (3) the breach of that duty caused damages to the plaintiff, and (4) the plaintiff sustained damages. Encarnacion v. Lifemark Hospitals of Fla., 211 So.3d 275, 278-79 (Fla. 3d DCA 2017) (quoting Wilson-Greene v. City of Miami, 208 So.3d 1271 (2017)). In a premises liability case, Defendant, as a premises owner, owes Plaintiff, as a business invitee, “a duty to exercise reasonable care to maintain [its] premises in a safe condition.” Encarnacion, 211 So.3d at 278. To ...

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