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Rushing v. Amisub (SFH) Inc.

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

February 8, 2017

SHAMEKA RUSHING
v.
AMISUB (SFH) INC., ET AL.

          Session January 19, 2017

         Appeal from the Circuit Court for Shelby County No. CT-003191-14 Robert Samual Weiss, Judge

         This is a premises liability case. Appellant slipped and fell in a clear liquid on the floor of the St. Francis Hospital emergency room and filed suit against the hospital. In its answer, the hospital denied liability and alleged comparative fault on the part of Appellant and its housekeeping management service, Crothall Healthcare, Inc. Appellant amended her complaint to name Crothall as a defendant. Appellees filed motions for summary judgment. The trial court granted both motions, finding that Appellant had failed to show that Appellees had actual or constructive notice of a dangerous condition. Appellant appeals. Discerning no error, we affirm the trial court's grant of summary judgment.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit Court

         Affirmed and Remanded

          Shameka Rushing, Memphis, Tennessee, appellant, pro se.

          W. Timothy Hayes and Joshua A. Hillis, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, AMISUB (SFH), Inc. d/b/a St. Francis Hospital.

          Bethany Munyan Shelton, Kansas City, Missouri, William David Darnell and Tracy Aaron Overstreet, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Crothall Healthcare, Inc.

          Kenny Armstrong, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which J. Steven Stafford, P.J., W.S., and Brandon O. Gibson, J., joined.

          OPINION

          KENNY ARMSTRONG, JUDGE.

         I. Background

         On or about August 23, 2013, Shameka Rushing ("Appellant") entered the St. Francis Hospital ("SFH") emergency room. As Ms. Rushing approached the registration desk, she slipped and fell in a clear liquid on the floor. Ms. Rushing alleges that she injured her back, left hip, and left ankle as a result of the fall.

         On July 23, 2014, Appellant filed a complaint in the Circuit Court for Shelby County ("trial court"). Appellant's complaint averred that: (1) SFH negligently maintained the premises; (2) SFH failed to warn Appellant of the dangerous condition; and (3) SFH failed to inspect its premises to ensure that the premises were safe.

         On September 2, 2014, SFH filed its answer, denying Appellant's allegations. As an affirmative defense, SFH alleged comparative fault on the part of Ms. Rushing and/or on the part of SFH's housekeeping management service, Crothall Healthcare, Inc. ("Crothall, " and together with SFH, "Appellees"). On November 10, 2014, Appellant amended her complaint to name Crothall as a defendant. On December 16, 2014, Crothall filed its answer, in which it denied liability and alleged comparative fault against Appellant and SFH.[1]

         On April 1, 2016, SFH filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that Appellant "cannot carry her burden of proof at the trial of this matter as she has no proof as to how the spill was created, how long it existed or who created the spill." On April 20, 2016, Crothall filed its motion for summary judgment, in which it argued that Appellant would be unable to establish that Crothall had notice of the spill. On April 20, 2016, Appellant filed a response, wherein she averred that:

Brenda Jones ([SFH's] Registration Clerk) and Embery Preston (Registered Nurse [and SFH employee]) admitted that the spill was sprite. They said that they had contacted the housekeeping company (Crothall Healthcare) to remove the spill. To their knowledge they thought the employees had gotten it up but apparently not. These two ladies have not been disposed by the defendants counsels [sic].

         On May 24, 2016, the trial court heard the motions for summary judgment and determined that Appellant had not deposed the two SFH employees mentioned in Appellant's response, supra. The trial court reset the motion to July 28, 2016, thus providing Appellant an additional sixty days to conduct discovery. During the sixty days, Appellant deposed Shannon Elsea, her former attorney, and Christi Leonard, a nurse employed by SFH; neither Mr. Elsea nor Ms. Leonard witnessed the liquid on the floor or Appellant's fall.

         On July 28, 2016, the trial court heard the motions for summary judgment. On August 8, 2016, the trial court granted Appellees' motions for summary judgment, finding that:

During the July 28, 2016 hearing, the Court determined that, despite the additional time granted, the Plaintiff has failed to come forward with any evidence sufficient to create a genuine issue of material fact as to whether Saint Francis [or Crothall] had notice of the presence of the liquid on the floor. Therefore, the Plaintiff's evidence is insufficient to establish an essential element of her claim, which is notice of the ...

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