Court finds restaurant liable in slip-and-fall case saying "no satisfactory efforts" made to keep floor clean

Personal Injury Blog

In reasons for judgment published this week, the court in Robinson v. 1390709 Alberta Ltd., 2016 BCSC 2459, found the defendant liable in a slip and fall case.  The defendant in Robinson operated a fast-food style restaurant called the “Chopped Leaf” which specialized in made-to-order salads.  The plaintiff claimed she had slipped and fallen in the restaurant after stepping on a “slimy” and “thicker than liquid” substance left on the floor.  In finding the restaurant negligent, Mr. Justice Gaul wrote as follows:

[20]         Ms. Robinson says there is direct evidence that a substance that was “slimy and thicker than a liquid” was on the floor of the restaurant and that this substance was the cause of her slip and fall. While she cannot say with precision what the substance was, that is, she cannot say whether it was a lettuce leaf, a slice of kiwi, or something else, she can say it was distinctly noticeable to her when she stepped on it.

[21]         The defendant argues it is insufficient for Ms. Robinson to say there was “something” on the floor that caused her to fall. According to the defendant, the plaintiff is asking this court to impermissibly speculate what it was that caused her to fall.

[22]         … In Ms. Robinson’s case she can clearly identify that the substance or item was noticeably different than water and that it had the distinct consistency of a food item. In my opinion that is not speculation or theorizing on her part. It is credible and reliable evidence that there was a foreign item or substance on the floor of the restaurant that created a potential hazard for its customers.

[23]         The evidence before me points to the fact that the colour and texture of the Chopped Leaf’s floor made it difficult to see items or substances that may have been dropped on it.

[25]         I find no employee of the Chopped Leaf made any satisfactory effort to determine the state of the restaurant’s floor during the time Ms. Robinson and Ms. Horgan were present in the restaurant. In my opinion, they should have. Had they done so, they would have noticed the substance on the floor, likely a food item, that should not have been there and realized it created the risk of a slip and fall accident, like the one that happened to Ms. Robinson.

[43]         In any event, I find there was a substance, likely an item of food, on the floor of the Chopped Leaf that should not have been there and that it created a hazard when Ms. Robinson went to leave the restaurant. She unwittingly stepped on the substance which resulted in her slipping and falling to the floor. The restaurant employees present at the time should have observed the substance and taken steps to clean the floor before Ms. Robinson and Ms. Horgan got up to leave the restaurant. They did not and the result was Ms. Robinson’s accident.

[45]         For all the forgoing reasons…I find the defendant is 100 percent liable for the accident that occurred to Ms. Robinson on 30 November 2012.

The full text of the decision can be found here: http://www.courts.gov.bc.ca/jdb-txt/sc/16/24/2016BCSC2459.htm

 

McQuarrie