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Massachusetts Court Discusses Retail Store Liability for Dangerous Conditions

There are drug stores throughout Massachusetts that people visit regularly to fill their prescriptions and purchase health and grooming implements. Drug stores are like any other retail establishment, in that they have a duty to make sure their premises are reasonably safe for any customers shopping in the store. The United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts recently addressed what a plaintiff must prove to recover damages following a slip and fall accident in a drug store. If you suffered injuries in a slip and fall accident in a retail store it is essential to consult a seasoned Massachusetts personal injury attorney to assess whether you may be able to seek compensation for your harm.

Factual Background of the Case

Reportedly, the plaintiff was shopping at the defendant drug store when she slipped and fell on a lip balm ball that was on the floor. She subsequently filed a lawsuit against the defendant, asserting a negligence claim. The defendant filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings, arguing that the plaintiff’s complaint failed to allege that the defendant owed plaintiff a duty or breached any duty owed. The plaintiff did not respond to the motion. The court subsequently granted the motion, dismissing the plaintiff’s claim.

Retail Store Liability for Plaintiff’s Harm

In Massachusetts, a retail store may be held liable for injuries suffered because of a dangerous condition on the premises that the store did not create, but only if the plaintiff can show that the store knew of or should have known of the dangerous condition, and that the condition posed an unreasonable risk of harm. Further, the plaintiff must show that the store could not reasonably have expected the plaintiff to discover the dangerous condition or protect himself or herself from harm and that the store failed to use reasonable care to protect the plaintiff.

There are two different methods a plaintiff can employ to show that the defendant had notice of a dangerous condition. Under the traditional approach, the plaintiff must show that the defendant caused the condition or that the condition had existed for long enough that the defendant should have known about it. In the mode of operation approach, however, a plaintiff can establish notice if he or she shows that the injury was caused by a dangerous condition that was reasonably foreseeable because it is related to the business’s mode of operation.

In the subject case, the court found that the plaintiff failed to set forth a plausible claim for negligence. Specifically, there were no facts alleging that the defendant knew or should have known the lip balm was on the floor. Thus, the court granted the defendant’s judgment on the pleadings.

Meet with a Skillful Massachusetts Personal Injury Attorney to Discuss Your Case

Businesses are required by law to keep their premises in a reasonably safe condition and should be held accountable for any harm caused by a breach of their duties. If you suffered harm in a slip and fall accident in Massachusetts, you should meet with a skillful Massachusetts personal injury attorney to discuss your case and what evidence you need to prove the business should be held accountable for your harm. The knowledgeable personal injury attorneys of Karsner & Meehan will work diligently to seek any compensation you may be owed. You can contact us at 508-822-6600 or via our form online to set up a consultation.