Session May 8, 2019
from the Circuit Court for Davidson County, No. 16C-2594
Amanda Jane McClendon, Judge.
a premises liability case. Appellant slipped and fell in a
clear substance on the floor of Appellee Publix Supermarket
and filed suit against the grocery chain. Appellee filed a
motion for summary judgment, which the trial court granted,
finding that Appellant failed to show that Appellee had
actual or constructive notice of the dangerous condition.
Appellant appeals. Discerning no error, we affirm the trial
court's grant of summary judgment.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit
Court Affirmed and Remanded.
A. Weir, Phillip G. Gombar, Smyrna, Tennessee, for the
appellant, Shanera Jones.
Douglas Parman, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellees,
Publix Supermarkets, Inc., and Publix Tennessee, LLC.
Armstrong, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which
J. Steven Stafford, P.J., W.S. and Carma D. McGee, J.,
October 6, 2015, Appellant Shanera Jones was shopping at the
Publix Supermarket on Concord Road in Davidson County. Ms.
Jones used a hand-held basket while shopping. After procuring
a few items, she proceeded to the seafood department; as Ms.
Jones rounded a corner from an aisle, she slipped on
"liquid that was present on the floor" and fell.
Ms. Jones was carrying her basket on her left arm and
attempted to break her fall with her right arm. Within
seconds, Ms. Jones stood up from the floor and continued
shopping. Store video captured the entire event. By the time
Ms. Jones was checking out, Michael Goldfarb, an assistant
customer service manager, had been notified of the incident.
He approached Ms. Jones to ask if she was okay. Ms. Jones did
not state that she was injured, but merely explained that she
fell by the seafood department. When Mr. Goldfarb asked if
she wanted to fill out an incident report, Ms. Jones
declined. However, she returned to the store the next day to
fill out a report.
to Ms. Jones's fall, store video shows several customers
traversing the area where Ms. Jones's fell. Approximately
two minutes before the fall, the video shows a possible
source of a small amount of liquid on the floor. The video
shows a toddler in a "kiddy cart" in the area. The
child appears to drink from a container (sippy cup/bottle)
and then drop the container inside the cart. Any liquid
inside the container could have fallen through the wire
bottom of the cart onto the floor. Ms. Jones disputes that
this was the source of the substance on the floor because she
described the liquid as "oily." However, Ms. Jones
does not identify another possible source for the liquid.
discovery, Ms. Jones deposed Donald Shaw, a Publix employee
who was working in the seafood department on the day of the
incident. Mr. Shaw testified that he was waiting on a
customer when Ms. Jones fell, but he did not witness the
fall. However, he "heard the commotion" and saw her
stand up. Mr. Shaw testified that he immediately left the
seafood counter and went to the spot where Ms. Jones fell in
an attempt to help her, but she had already exited the area
when he arrived. Indeed, the store video footage shows a
Publix employee behind the seafood counter when Ms. Jones
fell. Shortly after Ms. Jones left the area, the same Publix
employee arrived at the location where she fell. Upon
watching the video, Mr. Shaw confirmed that he was that
Publix employee. In the video, Mr. Shaw can be seen looking
around and calling for another person to come to the area.
Mr. Shaw stood at the location where Ms. Jones fell until
another employee, Nawzad Ahmad, came over with paper towels
to clean the liquid from the floor.According to the video, Mr.
Ahmad brought paper towels and cleaned the liquid up two
minutes after Ms. Jones fell. Mr. Shaw testified that he did
not feel the substance, but he observed that "[t]here
was a little bit of water . . . not a puddle." Mr. Shaw
clarified that it "was a clear liquid." He also
testified that he could not recall seeing anything spilled in
that area prior to Ms. Jones's fall.
the incident, Mr. Goldfarb and Tim Cochran, the store
manager, inspected the area where Ms. Jones fell. In his
deposition, Mr. Cochran testified that he looked at the floor
and noticed "a heel mark, like a scuff mark," and
that he "check[ed] the area for any moisture" but
did not feel any kind of substance on the
floor. Mr. Cochran also testified that, prior to
Ms. Jones's fall, he was not aware of any reports, from
an employee or a customer, of a spill or wet substance on the
floor in that area.
September 29, 2016, Ms. Jones filed suit in Davidson County
Circuit Court ("trial court") against Publix Super
Markets, Inc. and Publix Tennessee, LLC (together
"Publix," or "Appellees") alleging
negligence and seeking damages for injuries she allegedly
sustained in the October 6, 2015 fall. On October 20, 2016,
Publix answered denying any liability. On March 12, 2018,
Publix filed a motion for summary judgment. Ms. Jones filed a
response in opposition to the motion. The trial court heard
the motion for summary judgment on May 11, 2018. On August