Slip and Fall on a Grape

1. In Ritter v. Meijer, Inc, 128 Mich. App. 783; 341 N.W.2d 220 (1983), the plaintiff testified that she sustained injury when she slipped and fell on a grape in the defendant's grocery store. She further testified that the grape felt as though someone had previously stepped on it. Ritter, 128 Mich. App. at 784-785. The defendant sought a directed verdict on the basis that the plaintiff failed to present any evidence to establish that the grape was on the floor for a sufficient length of time to give the defendant actual or constructive notice of its presence. Ritter, 128 Mich. App. at 785-786. The Court disagreed and concluded that the plaintiff's testimony was sufficient to take her case out of the realm of conjecture. Id. at 786. The Court reasoned that because the grape would occupy only a small portion of the floor, the jury could infer that some time would have to pass before someone would step on it. "A stomped-upon grape is sufficient evidence to prove constructive notice of a slippery condition." Id. at 787. The opinion also stated that the plaintiff was entitled to a presumption that the grape was "dirty or partially discolored or withered" because the defendant's employee quickly wiped up the area and discarded the grape, thereby destroying the evidence. Id. at 786. 2. In Ritter v. Meijer, Inc, 128 Mich App 783; 341 NW2d 220 (1983), the plaintiff slipped on a grape after paying for her groceries and sustained serious injuries. The plaintiff testified that it felt to her as if the grape had previously been stepped on. The trial court denied defendant's motion for directed verdict, noting that there had been some evidence that someone else had previously stepped on the grape, which indicated that the grape had been on the floor for some time. The Court affirmed, noting that the fact that defendant's employee quickly wiped the area and discarded the grape allowed a presumption that the grape, if produced for trial, would work against the defendant. Id. at 785-786. The Court also viewed defendant's argument that it was possible that the grape had been dropped on the floor immediately before the plaintiff's fall as "pure conjecture," because no evidence was brought forward to rebut the inference created by the fact that the grape had previously been stepped on. Id. at 786-787.