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The court would not draw an inference of negligence against the defendant by declining to apply the Mode of Operation Rule when a plaintiff slipped and fell on a puddle of water because it held the casual nexus to self-service activity was lacking.

October 1, 2019
Elzogby v. Target Corp., No. 3:16-cv-4013, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 139810, at *13-16 (D.N.J. Aug. 19, 2019)

In this personal injury action, the plaintiff slipped and fell on a puddle of water without any notable marks or debris in a Target store. After her fall, she continued to shop in the store and checked out with purchases. The plaintiff’s brother, who was with her, completed an incident report that identified “water but not sure” as the cause of the plaintiff’s accident. The defendant later moved for summary judgment, arguing the plaintiff could not prove the defendant had actual or constructive notice of the water puddle, and the Mode of Operation Rule was not applicable because the plaintiff was not engaged in self-service activity, despite there being self-service activity in the store. The District of New Jersey agreed, finding the Mode of Operation Rule did not apply because “there is no evidence the accident occurred in an area of Target where customers were allowed to consume beverages, no evidence the incident occurred where spills were common, and no evidence she slipped on [water or another liquid] sold by Target.” Summary judgment was granted in favor of the defendant.


Case Law Alerts, 4th Quarter, October 2019

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