P was shopping in D's store when he slipped on a puddle of milk on the floor adjacent to the refrigerator.
P could not produce evidence at trial about how long the milk had been on the floor.
P argued that because D had not inspected the premises in a reasonable amount of time prior to the accident, a jury could infer the puddle was on the floor long enough for D employees to have discovered and remedied it.
D argued that its employees are trained to look for spills and make rounds of the store every 15 to 30 minutes. However, it is possible that the milk was there for at least two hours.
Trial court found for P.
Can a P establish a D's constructive knowledge in a negligence case through negative evidence, i.e. showing that an area had not been inspected for a period of time?
A P may demonstrate a shopkeeper had constructive notice of a dangerous condition if they can show that the site had not been inspected within a reasonable period of time so that a person exercising due care would have discovered and corrected the hazard.
A store owner is not an insurer of safety to its patrons, but it does owe a duty to exercise reasonable care in keeping the premises reasonably safe.
A store owner exercises ordinary care by making reasonable inspections of the portions of the premises open to customers, and the care required is commensurate with the risks involved.
P does not need to show actual knowledge of the hazard where evidence suggests that the dangerous condition was present for a sufficient period of time to charge the owner with constructive knowledge of its existence.
Whether a dangerous condition has existed long enough for a reasonably prudent person to have discovered it is a question of fact for the jury.
P does have the burden of producing evidence that the dangerous condition existed for at least a sufficient time to support a finding that the D had constructive notice of the condition. However, this can be proven by showing that the site had not been inspected within a reasonable period of time.