New Jersey appeals court allows woman injured by fall to sue Wal-Mart

A New Jersey appeals court recently ruled that a Plainfield woman could file a lawsuit against Wal-Mart in relation to a slip-and-fall incident in 2010 at the retail chain's Watchung store. The lawsuit had been dismissed by a trial court judge in 2011, partly on the basis of an affidavit submitted by a Wal-Mart employee.

The appeals court examined the circumstances of the accident and determined that there was sufficient evidence to form the basis for a claim that Wal-Mart was aware that the floor was slippery at the time and location of the fall. Accordingly, the woman's slip-and-fall lawsuit was allowed to proceed.

Affidavit by Wal-Mart provided inadequate basis for dismissal of complaint

The case of Andara v. Wal-Mart Stores East stems from an incident in July 2010 when a woman slipped and fell near the self-service checkout area at the Wal-Mart store in Watchung, New Jersey. In an article on the case in The Star-Ledger, her attorney claims that the victim "suffered injuries to her shoulder, neck and lower back." Approximately one year later, the woman filed a lawsuit against Wal-Mart.

However, the trial court judge dismissed the legal action, in response to a motion by Wal-Mart for summary judgment. The dismissal was partly based on an affidavit submitted by a Wal-Mart employee stating that the employee had walked through the area of the fall shortly before the accident and "there was no water on the floor."

In its ruling, the appeals court casts doubt on the conclusiveness of this evidence, pointing out that the store's surveillance video "does not necessarily suggest the cashier actually inspected the area." The ruling also mentions that the surveillance video does not show anyone spilling a liquid in the area for at least an hour before the fall, which indicates that the floor must have been slippery for a "considerable period."

Appeals court reverses dismissal of slip-and-fall lawsuit against retail giant

Accordingly, the appeals court chose to reverse the decision of the trial court dismissing the victim's legal action. As a commentary on the case in the New Jersey Law Journal explains, the appeals court allowed the lawsuit to proceed because it found sufficient evidence to form the basis of a claim "that Wal-Mart knew or should have known of the dangerous, slippery condition" in the store.

Anyone injured in a fall or similar accident on retail, public or other premises should seek the assistance of an experienced personal injury attorney. A lawyer with relevant expertise can assess the unique facts of each case and offer valuable advice on available legal options.