In the current legal landscape it is extremely rare that civil matters make it all the way to trial. Often times litigation is protracted and takes a long time, but ultimately the cases usually settle, sometimes even on the eve of trial.
This was one of the rare instances the case did not settle and was even more unique that it had to continue with only 5 Jurors instead of 6. One of the Jurors discovered a conflict after he was selected for Jury Duty.
Mr. Croteau had the opportunity to defend a local grocery store in a slip and fall action where the Plaintiff alleged she slipped and fell on sand going up the stairwell leading to the second floor. Her allegations were that the stairwell was not monitored for dirt and debris and that the grocery store did not have a reasonable system of inspection and maintenance in place for the cleaning of sand off of the stairwell.
Ultimately, the Defendant adduced evidence that the two witnesses who were present, both of which did not see the fall itself, felt the stairwell in question and did not discover the presence of any sand. There were also photographs taken of the area in question within minutes of the fall which were tendered as exhibits at Trial.
The Plaintiff was unable to convince the Jury that she fell on sand. As such, the answer to the question posed to the Jury “Do you find, on a balance of probabilities, that the Plaintiff slipped and fell on sand on the stairwell leading up to the second floor?” was no. The Jury then did not need to consider the questions regarding the system of inspection and maintenance in place by the grocery store as they answered the first question in the negative, which ended the inquiry into liability.
The finding of fact by the Jury indicates that the Plaintiff did not in fact slip and fall on the premises. It was always acknowledged by the Defendant that there was a “fall” on the premises, however, in this case it was simply an accidental fall, which happens from time to time.
Congratulations Mr. Croteau! Great Win!