It is not uncommon for a business to hire a company to clean and perform maintenance on the business premises. In such instances, a dispute may arise as to which party is liable if a person subsequently suffers injuries in a slip and fall accident caused by an improperly cleaned spill. This was illustrated in a recent slip and fall case in Massachusetts, in which the court ultimately ruled that the plaintiff failed to establish the elements needed to prove the liability of the third-party cleaning company. If you suffered injuries in a slip and fall accident, it is advisable to discuss your harm with a trusted Massachusetts personal injury attorney to assess whether you may be able to pursue claims for damages.
Facts of the Case
It is reported that the plaintiff was shopping in the defendant grocery store when she slipped and fell on a puddle, which caused her to sustain injuries. The puddle was caused by melted ice that was bagged and given to customers to keep perishable items cold. The plaintiff saw a child drop a bag of ice, which created the puddle, prior to her fall. She also observed an employee of the defendant grocery store attempting to clean up the puddle.
Allegedly, the defendant grocery store contracted with the defendant cleaner to clean the premises and provide maintenance services, including cleaning up spills. The plaintiff subsequently filed a lawsuit against both defendants, alleging negligence claims. The defendant cleaner filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that, as a matter of law, it could not be held liable for the plaintiff’s harm.
Proving Liability Pursuant to a Contractual Obligation
The Massachusetts courts have held that a defendant who has a contractual obligation to perform duties may be liable to people who are not parties to the contract. Specifically, liability may be imposed if the parties are foreseeably exposed to danger and subsequently injured due to the defendant’s negligent failure to carry out its contractual duties. As such, for the plaintiff to maintain a claim against the defendant cleaner, she was required to show that her injuries arose from the defendant cleaner’s failure to perform its contractual duties with care.
The court explained the legal principle behind the duty of care is that plaintiffs are owed a reasonable degree of protection. Thus, as the defendant cleaner was contracted to keep the defendant grocery store’s floors clean of hazards, the court found that whether the defendant cleaner properly completed its duties could affect visitors of the store. As such, the court found that the defendant cleaner owed the plaintiff a duty. The court found, however, that there was insufficient evidence that the defendant cleaner breached the duty, as it was not aware of the puddle and did not attempt to clean it up. Thus, the court granted the defendant cleaner’s motion for summary judgment.
Meet with a Seasoned Massachusetts Attorney
In many instances, there are multiple factors that combine to create a dangerous scenario, and it is not always immediately clear who may be liable for a person’s harm. If you sustained harm in a slip and fall accident, the seasoned Massachusetts personal injury attorneys of the Law Office of James K. Meehan, can inform you of your rights and help you to pursue the full amount of compensation you may be able to recover under the law. You can reach us at 508-822-6600 or through the form online to set up a meeting.