Edward v. Target Stores, Inc., No. 17-2646, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 218739 (D.N.J. Jan. 9, 2019)

Summary judgment warranted when alleged personal injury on commercial property due to maintenance hazard is based on conjecture that is not supported by actual evidence.

This case speaks to so many defense attorneys who are tasked with defending our clients against slip-and-fall plaintiffs who cannot articulate or prove the claimed “hazard” that purportedly caused their injuries. In this federal case out of the District of New Jersey, the plaintiff went shopping at several different stores prior to her arrival at Target, where she fell because she “stepped in something . . . it felt like glue or something.” The plaintiff did not identify an observable hazard nor did any witnesses. Target ultimately moved for summary judgment, arguing that proof of a fall, alone, does not bespeak negligence or the existence of a hazardous condition. Moreover, Target argued the fact that the plaintiff’s claim that she stepped in something does not amount to factual evidence, only mere conjecture. The court found these arguments persuasive, reasoning that the plaintiff could have picked up the “sticky substance” on her shoe in her travels long before she ever arrived at Target. No proof to the contrary was supplied. Summary judgment was granted in favor of the defendant.


Case Law Alerts, 2nd Quarter, April 2019

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