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Betner v. Grayling Corp.
Superior Court of Delaware
March 9, 2018
SHIRLY BETNER, Plaintiff,
GRAYLING CORP. d/b/a CHILI'S RESTAURANT Defendants.
Submitted: February 8, 2018
CALVIN L. SCOTT, JR.
9th day of March, 2018, upon consideration of Grayling Corp.
d/b/a Chili's Restaurant ("Defendant") Motion
for Summary Judgment, and Shirley Betner's
("Plaintiff") Response, it appears to the Court
1. On or about September 5, 2014 Plaintiff was a visitor a
Defendant's restaurant located in Wilmington, Delaware.
2. Plaintiff claims while walking in Defendant's
restaurant she slipped and fell on "a wet greasy
substance" like a "goo" on the floor of the
3. Plaintiff filed a Complaint on August 8, 2016, claiming
that she suffered injuries from the fall. Defendant filed a
Motion for Summary Judgment on October 5, 2017. Plaintiff
filed a response on November 28, 2017. Subsequently on
December 28, 2017 Defendant filed a Letter with this Court
requesting the opportunity to submit a Reply to
Plaintiff's Response. The Court denied Defendant's
4. Defendant claims that Plaintiff cannot demonstrate that
there was a dangerous or defective condition on the floor at
the time she fell. Defendant argues that there is "no
evidence of any defect" and that Plaintiff "merely
speculates the floor had what looked like a 'film' on
it, and that film looked like candlewax from afar."
Additionally, Defendant argues that Plaintiff failed to show
Defendant had notice of any dangerous condition.
5. Plaintiff argues that summary judgment is not appropriate
at this stage as there are genuine issues of material fact in
dispute and it is for the jury, not the judge, to make
6. The Court may grant summary judgment if "the
pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and
admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any,
show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact
and that the moving party is entitled to summary judgment as
a matter of law." The moving party bears the initial burden
of showing that no material issues of fact are
present. Once such a showing is made, the burden
shifts to the non-moving party to demonstrate that there are
material issues of fact in dispute.In considering a motion for
summary judgment, the Court must view the record in a light
most favorable to the non-moving party. The Court will
not grant summary judgment if it seems desirable to inquire
more thoroughly into the facts in order to clarify the
application of the law.
7. In negligence cases it is imperative to determine the
status of the individual on the premises in order to assess
the duty owed to the plaintiff. Here, Plaintiff was a
business invitee. "Generally, a landowner has a duty to
exercise reasonable care in keeping its premises safe for the
benefit of business invitees." Additionally, "[w]hen a
business invitee brings a negligence action for personal
injuries sustained while on a business' premises, he or
she must demonstrate 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."
8. Defendants claim that Plaintiff's case fails because
she has not demonstrated that there was an unsafe condition
and Defendant had notice of the unsafe condition. The Court
disagrees with Defendant's argument. When viewing the
evidence in a light most favorable to Plaintiff, there are
genuine issues of fact as to a dangerous condition. In
Plaintiff's deposition, when asked what caused the fall,
she states: "The area where I walked was greasy. I
slipped. I felt something oily as I hit the floor. I could
feel that on my hand, but I did slip, and I felt the oil of
the slipperiness where I fell." Additionally, when asked
if there was any residue from the "goo" on her
clothing, she stated it was on her pants and shoes.
Plaintiff's husband also testified that he saw his wife
fall and that the floor was "gooey" and there
"was some kind of residue on it." There are
sufficient facts for a reasonable jury to conclude that there
was a dangerous condition on the floor, and thus summary
judgment is inappropriate as to this argument.
9. Defendant also argues that Plaintiff cannot show that the
alleged dangerous condition could have been discovered by a
reasonable inspection. Defendant argues that Plaintiff has
introduced no evidence to suggest that Defendant had any
knowledge or should have known that the floor was slippery,
and there were no reports of the condition prior to
Plaintiff's fall. On the other hand, Plaintiff argues
that the accident was near other employees because the
hostess lead Plaintiff and her husband into the unsafe
10.The Court is not persuaded by Defendant's argument. As
it is Defendant's burden on this motion to show that
there are no genuine issues of fact, Defendant has not met
its initial burden. Defendant's motion merely repeats
that Plaintiff provided no evidence as to notice or
reasonable inspection. The Court finds that it is an issue of
fact as to whether Defendant had actual notice of the alleged
goo on the floor, or that it could have been discovered by
such reasonable inspection as other reasonably prudent
storekeepers would regard as necessary. Plaintiff's
husband stated in his deposition that after his wife fell he
noticed the floor was "greasy." After the fall he
noticed that it "was a filthy restaurant" and it
was "dimly lit, and the floor was gooey and
greasy." Plaintiff's husband also stated that
Plaintiff fell as the hostess was taking them to be seated.
Plaintiff herself states that after she fell "she could
see the imprints of the people's shoes" once she
looked down at the floor. Based on these facts a jury could
infer that Defendant, a restaurant, could have discovered the
condition through a reasonable inspection. Therefore, summary
judgment is not appropriate.
11. As to Defendant's lost wages or loss of earning
capacity argument, Plaintiff states that she is not claiming
any lost wages or loss of earning capacity at this time, and
therefore that portion of Defendant's motion is moot. For
the foregoing ...
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