What Is ''Constructive Knowledge'' In a Texas Slip and Fall Case ?
In Corbin v. Safeway Stores, Inc., 648 S.W.2d 292, 296 (Tex. 1983), court held that there was some evidence of a condition that presented an unreasonable risk of harm.
Court said in Corbin that when the injured party is an invitee, the elements of a premises claim are:
(1) Actual or constructive knowledge of a condition on the premises by the owner or occupier;
(2) That the condition posed an unreasonable risk of harm;
(3) That the owner or occupier did not exercise reasonable care to reduce or eliminate the risk; and
(4) That the owner or occupier's failure to use such care proximately caused the plaintiff's injury.
See Corbin, 648 S.W.2d at 296; see also Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Gonzalez, 968 S.W.2d 934, 936 (Tex. 1998); Motel 6 G.P., Inc. v. Lopez, 929 S.W.2d 1, 3 (Tex. 1996); Keetch v. Kroger Co., 845 S.W.2d 262, 264 (Tex. 1992); RESTATEMENT (SECOND) OF TORTS 343 (1965).
In Corbin v. Safeway Stores, Inc., 648 S.W.2d 292, 296 (Tex. 1983), the plaintiff slipped and fell on a grape that was on the floor in front of a grape display. Corbin, 648 S.W.2d at 294.
Safeway, the premises owner, had directed each of its stores to keep large, non-slip mats in front of these displays because Safeway knew that if grapes fell on the floor, someone could slip and be injured. See id. the plaintiff in Corbin contended that there were three dangerous conditions.
The first was the presence on the floor of the specific grape on which Corbin fell.
He argued that Safeway had constructive knowledge of this condition because when he fell, other grapes lying around him were discolored and ruptured. See Corbin, 648 S.W.2d at 296.
We held that this was legally insufficient evidence "to prove that the grapes had been on the floor a sufficient time to impute knowledge of their location to Safeway." Id.
The "aging and discoloration may just as likely have occurred before as after the grapes fell." Id.
We also held that there was no evidence to support Corbin's second theory, which was that the floor was excessively dirty. See id.
Corbin's third theory was that the manner in which the grapes were displayed created an unreasonable risk of harm. See id.
The self-service grape bin at issue displayed green grapes, slanted towards a green linoleum tile floor, and was open with no covering. See id.
Customers frequently knocked grapes off stems or dropped them, and the bin was a continual source of slippery material. See Corbin, 648 S.W.2d at 294.
Corbin testified that there was no mat in front of the display where he fell. See id.
We held that a jury could conclude from this evidence that the manner of displaying the grapes posed an unusually high risk of injury and that because the store was responsible for placing a mat in front of the grape display, the absence of a mat was some evidence that Safeway had knowledge of the unreasonable risk. See Corbin, 648 S.W.2d at 296-97.
In H.E. Butt Grocery Co. v. Resendez, 988 S.W.2d 218 (Tex. 1999), the injured party contended that because H.E.B. displayed its grapes in a self-service bin that permitted shoppers to sample the fruit, there was an unreasonable risk that customers would slip on grapes that fell to the floor. See id. at 218.
Court held that "the mere fact that a store has a customer sampling display cannot, without more, be evidence of a condition on the premises that poses an unreasonable risk of harm." Id. at 219.