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Hagstron v. Concord Mall, LLC

Superior Court of Delaware

April 17, 2017

CONCORD MALL, LLC, a Delaware Limited Liability Company, ALLIED PROPERTIES, INC., a Delaware Corporation, and ENVIRONMENTAL CLEANING SOLUTIONS, INC., a Pennsylvania Corporation, Defendants.

          Submitted: February 9, 2017

         Upon Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment: DENIED.

          Daniel L. McKenty, Esquire, Heckler & Frabizzio, Attorney for Defendants Concord Mall, LLC and Allied Properties, Inc.

          Susan List Hauske, Esquire, Tybout, Redfearn & Pell, Attorney for Defendant Environmental Cleaning Solutions, Inc.

          James P. Hall, Esquire, Phillips, Goldman, McLaughlin & Hall, Attorney for Plaintiff Kristina Hagstron.


          FERRIS W. WHARTON, J.

         This 17th day of April, 2017, upon consideration of Concord Mall, LLC's, Allied Properties, Inc.'s, and Environmental Cleaning Solutions, Inc.'s ("Defendants") Motion for Summary Judgment and Kristina Hagstron's ("Plaintiff) Response, it appears to the Court that:

         1. Plaintiff worked for Dakota Watch Company at a kiosk located inside Concord Mall ("Mall") in Wilmington, Delaware.[1] On May 5, 2015, Plaintiff arrived at the Mall for work at approximately 9:30 a.m.[2] The general public is able to access the Mall at 9:00 a.m. on weekdays.[3] However, stores do not open until 10:00 a.m.[4]

         2. At approximately 9:50 a.m., an individual approached Plaintiffs kiosk and asked Plaintiff whether she had a box for a piece of jewelry that the individual had purchased.[5] Plaintiff did not have a box at her kiosk. As a result, Plaintiff decided to walk to a nearby jewelry store in the Mall to get one.[6]

         3. As Plaintiff began to walk toward the jewelry store, Plaintiff allegedly slipped on water and fell to the ground.[7] Plaintiff alleges that she sustained a left metatarsal fracture as a result of the fall.[8]

          4. On April 11, 2016, Plaintiff filed a Complaint against Defendants. Plaintiff alleges, among other things, that Defendants were negligent by failing to properly and reasonably inspect the premises, by failing to warn Plaintiff of the defective condition, by failing to take reasonable measures to make the premises safe for invitees, and by failing to remedy the defective condition within a reasonable period of time after Defendants became, or should have become, aware of the defective condition.[9] Plaintiff argues that Defendants' negligence proximately caused Plaintiff to suffer a left metatarsal fracture.[10] Therefore, Plaintiff contends that she is entitled to damages.

         5. On January 12, 2017, Defendants filed a Motion for Summary Judgment. Defendants argue that summary judgment is appropriate because Plaintiff has failed to provide any evidence proving that the floor was wet.[11]Moreover, Defendants argue that Plaintiff has failed to produce any evidence showing that Defendants had notice of the alleged wet floor.[12] Without such evidence, Defendants contend that Plaintiff cannot prove that Defendants had constructive knowledge of the alleged defective condition.[13]

         6. On February 9, 2017, Plaintiff filed her Response to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. Plaintiff contends that she has established that there was an unsafe condition at the Mall when she fell.[14] Plaintiff explicitly testified that the floor was wet.[15] Plaintiff also observed maintenance personnel cleaning up the wet floor after the fall occurred.[16] Further, Plaintiff contends that there is genuine issue of material fact regarding whether Defendants should have been aware of the defective condition and whether they were negligent by failing to remedy that defective condition.[17] Specifically, Plaintiff argues that maintenance personnel begin working at 6:00 a.m. each day and were responsible for cleaning the Mall.[18] Thus, Plaintiff asserts there is an inference that maintenance personnel should have known about the defective condition.[19]

         7. Superior Court Civil Rule 56(c) provides that summary judgment is appropriate when there is "no genuine issue as to any material fact" and "the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." When considering a motion for summary judgment, the Court's function is to examine the record to determine whether genuine issues of material fact exist "but not to decide such issues."[20] The moving party bears the initial burden of demonstrating that the undisputed facts support its claims or defenses.[21] If the moving party meets its burden, then the burden shifts to the non-moving party to demonstrate that there are material issues of fact to be resolved by the ultimate fact-finder.[22]

         8. A business invitee who brings a negligence action for personal injuries sustained while on a business' premises must prove the following three elements: "(1) there was an unsafe condition in the defendant's store (2) which caused the injuries complained of, and (3) 'of which the storekeeper had actual notice or which could have been discovered by such reasonable inspection as other reasonably prudent storekeepers would regard as necessary.'"[23] However, given that Defendants ...

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