After-the-Fact Identification of Parking Lot Defect too ‘Speculative’ to Allow Louisiana Woman to Pursue Case Against Supermarket

parking lotA woman who fell at a Shreveport supermarket was unable to identify exactly what caused her to fall and, as a result, was unable to proceed with her injury lawsuit against the store. Only after the woman’s husband returned to the store and photographed a crack in the store parking lot did the couple identify the cause of the accident. This was too speculative to constitute the necessary circumstantial evidence required to take the case to trial, the Louisiana Court of Appeal recently decided.

In the events leading up the injury, Yvonne and Aristide Ton had traveled to an Albertson’s store in Shreveport to do some grocery shopping. While walking across the parking lot, the wife fell, injuring her shoulder. No one saw the woman fall.

A day or two after the accident, the husband returned to the store and took photographs of the parking lot. Taking photos of an accident site as soon as possible can be very helpful to you in an injury case. Ideally, you should take your pictures right away so that they capture the scene exactly as it existed at the time of the accident.

In the Tons’ case, the photos showed a small crack or hole in an expansion joint. The couple sued the store, alleging that the defect in the parking lot caused the woman to fall and injure her shoulder. The store argued that the couple lacked sufficient evidence that the crack caused the fall. The store also contended that the crack did not pose an unreasonable risk of harm and that the store did not cause the defect in the lot and did not have any constructive knowledge of its existence. A store employee testified that no one had complained about the lot, and there was no history of previous falls in that area of the lot.

The store asked for summary judgment, and the trial court ruled in its favor. That court relied heavily on the testimony of the victim herself, who admitted that she did not know exactly what caused her to trip and fall. The court also pointed out that the store employees who saw the woman on the ground said that her fall took place several feet away from the allegedly problematic expansion joint. Additionally, the absence of previous incidents or complaints indicated that the lot did not present an unreasonable risk of harm.

The couple appealed, but to no avail. While circumstantial evidence is enough to prevent a court from throwing out your case on summary judgment, your evidence must be more than “mere speculation.” The Tons’ case was simply too speculative. The wife could not say what caused her to fall. The husband did not see the fall and could not identify exactly where the wife was when she fell. Meanwhile, several store employees testified that the woman’s incident took place several feet away from the expansion joint.

Only after the husband returned to the store to take pictures did the couple identify the cracked expansion joint as the cause. This after-the-fact identification amounted to speculation and not circumstantial evidence, the court decided in upholding the lower court’s ruling.

When you’re injured on a store’s property, it is important to preserve evidence immediately by taking photographs and obtaining names and addresses of witnesses if possible. For help with your injury case, get in touch with the Louisiana premises liability attorneys at the Cardone Law Firm. Our attorney have helped many injured people just like you and are ready to represent you in your case.

For a confidential consultation, contact us online or phone Cardone at 1-888-89-CARDONE (1-888-892-2736).

More Blog Posts:

Mall of Louisiana Patron Unable to Hold Department Store Liable for Injuries in Slip-and-Fall Accident, Louisiana Injury Lawyers Blog, July 15, 2015

Louisiana Shopper Loses Slip-and-Fall Case Because She Couldn’t Prove Store Knew About Hazard, Louisiana Injury Lawyers Blog, March 16, 2015