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Jobe v. Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

June 4, 2018

OVALLA JOBE
v.
GOODWILL INDUSTRIES OF MIDDLE TENNESSEE, INC., ET AL.

          Session May 24, 2018

          Appeal from the Circuit Court for Davidson County No. 14C4626 Kelvin D. Jones, Judge.

         This appeal involves a premises liability suit filed by a customer of a Goodwill store after the customer sat on an item of furniture that was for sale and it collapsed. The trial court granted summary judgment to Goodwill, finding no genuine issue of material fact and concluding that Goodwill did not create or have actual or constructive knowledge of any alleged defect. The plaintiff appeals. We affirm.

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

          Luvell L. Glanton and Shilpini Vora Burris, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Ovalla Jobe.

          Fred C. Statum, III and Jordan Caralisa Connell, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee, Inc.

          Brandon O. Gibson, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Arnold B. Goldin, and Kenny Armstrong, JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          BRANDON O. GIBSON, JUDGE.

         I. Facts & Procedural History

         Ovalla Jobe filed this lawsuit against Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee, Inc., seeking to recover for injuries and expenses she allegedly incurred as a result of a fall at a Goodwill store. According to Ms. Jobe's complaint, she was a customer at the store and attempted to sit in a plastic chair that was displayed for sale when the chair collapsed, causing Ms. Jobe to fall and hit her head on another piece of furniture. Ms. Jobe alleged that Goodwill "had constructive notice of the hazardous, dangerous and unsafe condition of the plastic chair, which caused the Plaintiff to fall." Ms. Jobe also alleged that Goodwill "created a hazardous, dangerous and unsafe condition which created an unreasonable risk of harm and proximately caused the Plaintiff to suffer personal injuries." Specifically, she alleged that Goodwill employees were negligent in failing to safely maintain and inspect the facility and address unsafe conditions and in failing to provide warning signs or notice of unsafe conditions.

         Goodwill filed a motion for summary judgment along with the depositions of Ms. Jobe and two Goodwill employees. Specifically, Goodwill cited deposition testimony from its risk manager and its district manager, both of whom testified that donated items are visually inspected and examined by a donation attendant when received and inspected again by a processing employee before merchandise is priced and placed on the sales floor. The district manager added, "We look at it. You know, we're checking the sturdiness. You know, we're maybe moving it around. We're not sitting on it. You know, it's - it's a pretty quick process." Goodwill also cited the following testimony from Ms. Jobe's deposition:

Q. Before you sat down on the chair, as you were looking at the chair before you sat down on it, did you pick up the chair, look at it, inspect it to see if it looked -
A. No.
Q. - safe to sit ...

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