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12/20/13: Fort Myers, Naples, Port Charlotte Personal Injury Lawyer – Recent case law limits the scope of Discovery in Florida slip and fall cases

Slip and fall cases are exactly what they sound like – lawsuits brought against property owners when someone slips and falls on their property and is injured due to the fall. The vast majority of slip and fall lawsuits are brought against large corporations that operate stores such as Walmart, Target and Publix.

In order to prevail in a slip and fall case the injured party must show that:

  1. The property owner created the dangerous condition;
  2. The property owner knew of the condition and failed to correct it or;
  3. The condition existed for a prolonged period of time so that a reasonable property owner would have discovered the condition and corrected it before the accident occurred

In the case of Publix Supermarkets v. Santos a Florida woman was injured when she slipped on a green spinach like transitory substance located by a cooking demonstration area where free samples are given out in a Publix Supermarket. During the discovery process the woman’s attorney requested the records for all slip and fall accidents at that Publix over the prior three years. The records showed no evidence of similar slip and falls by the cooking demonstration area where free samples are given out. The woman’s attorney then requested the slip and fall records for all Publix supermarkets throughout the State of Florida. That request led to a court battle over the legal issue of whether the slip and fall records of all Publix supermarkets throughout the State of Florida had any relevance to notice, or lack thereof, at the specific Public supermarket where the accident took place. The Third District Court of Appeal held that the woman was not entitled to those records finding that they would not be relevant to her lawsuit. Therefore, the Appellate Court limited the scope of discovery in slip and fall cases holding that only the accident records of the particular Publix, Walmart, Target etc. where the accident took place is relevant for the purposes of the lawsuit and the accident records pertaining to other stores beyond the specific store where the accident took place are irrelevant and plaintiffs are not entitled to them.