Walgreens Dodges Slip and Fall Case

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By Melissa Heelan Stanzione

Walgreens walked away from a slip and fall case after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit dismissed the case against the store March 23.

There are many potential hazards in stores such as soda bottles that fall and leak or toys cluttering an aisle but these don’t automatically make store owners liable for them, Judge Daniel A. Manion wrote for the court.

Robin Austin was shopping in a Walgreens store in Hebron, Ind., when she slipped on what she claimed was water and broke her knee.

Another customer and a store manager who were at the scene at the time didn’t see water. Austin’s friend who arrived soon after the fall took pictures of what she called “water everywhere,” the court said.

Walgreens owes customers in its stores “the highest duty of care” so it had to take reasonable care to protect Austin, it said.

But Austin didn’t show that Walgreens was aware of the water on the floor, and just because there was a possibility of water from people tracking snow in from outside doesn’t mean the store automatically knew of that hazard that minute it materialized, the court said.

Even if there was a dangerous condition, Austin failed to show the company breached its duty of care because she didn’t show that Walgreens was or should have been aware of it in time to take care of it, the court said.

Judges William J. Bauer and Ilana D. Rovner joined the opinion.

Law Office of David Gladish, PC, represented Austin. Johnson & Bell, Ltd., represented Walgreen.

The case is Austin v. Walgreen Co. , 2018 BL 99877, 7th Cir., No. 17-2629, 3/23/18 .

To contact the reporter on this story: Melissa Heelan Stanzione in Washington at mstanzione@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jessie Kokrda Kamens at jkamens@bloomberglaw.com

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