Wal-Mart gives second try at summary judgment in slip-and-fall case

David Yates Aug. 18, 2009, 10:38am

For the second time, Judge Milton Shuffield is considering whether to dismiss a slip and fall suit against Wal-Mart.

As the Record previously reported, while checking out at the Port Arthur Wal-Mart, Charlotte Green slipped and fell in a puddle of water near a checkout register.

She claims she was injured and filed suit against the mega center two years ago in Jefferson County District Court.

On March 31, Judge Shuffield, 136th Judicial District, granted Wal-Mart's motion for a no evidence summary judgment, finding the motion "meritorious," court papers say.

In response, plaintiff's attorney David Dies filed a motion for a new trial, claiming he could produce a witness who could testify to Wal-Mart's alleged negligence.

The judge granted Dies' motion and vacated his previous order, allowing the new testimony. Wal-Mart fired back by filing another motion for summary judgment.

At an Aug. 17 summary judgment hearing, Dies said his witness' deposition "raised questions of fact" in the case. He said her testimony shows that there were numerous water puddles the "size of purses" on the floor for some time.

According to the petition, around 5:30 a.m. on June 17, 2006, Green was shopping at the Wal-Mart located at 8585 Memorial Blvd. in Port Arthur, "when she slipped in a large puddle of water at the register," causing her to fall and injure herself.

The suit asserts Wal-Mart and its employees were negligent for failing to remedy the dangerous condition.

"There's no question she had an accident � there's no question there was water on the floor," Dies said at the hearing, adding that Wal-Mart negligently failed to barricade the hazardous aisles.

"Defendant breached said duty by failing to remove the water�and warn patrons of the hazards," the suit states. "Defendant negligently allowed such condition to continue."

Maintaining its original position, the defense argued that there is still no solid evidence in the case.

Judge Shuffield said he would try to have a decision ready by the end of the week.

Court papers do not state the nature of Green's alleged injury. She is suing for past and future medical expenses, physical pain, mental anguish and impairment.

Dies is an attorney for the Hart & Parkhurst law firm.

The defendant is represented in part by attorney Karen Spivey.

Case No. D180-591

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