Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Pita v. Target Corp.

May 29, 2009

IRMA PITA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
TARGET CORPORATION, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Matthew F. Kennelly, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Irma Pita has sued Target Corporation, asserting a claim of negligence in connection with a slip and fall at a Target store. Target has moved for summary judgment. For the reasons stated below, the Court grants the motion.

Facts

Because Target has moved for summary judgment, the Court views the facts in the light most favorable to Pita and draws reasonable inferences in her favor. See, e.g., Nat'l Athletic Sportswear, Inc. v. Westfield Ins. Co., 528 F.3d 508, 512 (7th Cir. 2008).

Irma Pita went to the Target store located in Broadview, Illinois on June 21, 2006 between 8:00 and 9:00 p.m. After purchasing some produce, she walked across the main grocery aisle toward the cosmetics aisle. Pita fell to the ground. Upon falling, she noticed that there was a colorless, odorless liquid on the floor and that her clothes were wet. Several employees came to her aid and called an ambulance for her.

Before Pita's fall, Tracy Kawicz was also shopping in the same area. Kawicz noticed a puddle of colorless liquid in the main aisle. She also saw Pita in the main aisle at that time. Kawicz steered clear of the liquid. She did not say anything to Pita about the liquid because she assumed that Pita had seen it. Kawicz then walked through some of the pharmacy aisles adjacent to the main aisle. About three minutes after first seeing Pita and the puddle in the main aisle, Kawicz saw Pita step on the liquid and fall to the ground.

Target's policy requires that employees watch out for spills and other dangerous conditions. According to the policy, if an employee discovers a spill, she must stay on the spot and call for help on her walkie-talkie. The Broadview Target store had cleaning stations throughout the store stocked with cleaning supplies.

Marta Buczynski, a Target employee, was on duty the evening of June 21, 2006. She was assigned to work the pharmacy section of store between 5:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. One of her duties is to periodically check the aisles to make sure the displays are neat and that there are no dangerous conditions like spills. Buczynski testified at her deposition that she typically checks the aisles in this fashion approximately every ten minutes. She testified that she checked the aisles about every ten minutes on June 21, 2006. She did not notice any liquid on the floor on that night. Buczynski is currently required to take a thirty-minute lunch break at some point during her shift, but she was not sure whether she was required to take such a break in June 2006. In any event, Buczynski testified that she was certain that she was not on a lunch break immediately prior to Pita's fall.

Gabriel Guzman, another Target employee, testified at his deposition that he was also checking the main grocery aisle on the evening of June 21, 2006. He testified that he walked past that aisle about five to ten minutes before Pita fell. Guzman did not observe any liquid on the floor prior to Pita's fall.

A bathroom is located near the main aisle where Pita fell. That bathroom is typically cleaned overnight only. If the bathroom is particularly dirty, however, employees occasionally clean it during business hours. Cleaning equipment, including mops and buckets, is stored in maintenance rooms at the front and back of the store. Matt Liska, a Target Protection Specialist, did not know whether the bathroom had been mopped on June 21, 2001, but he testified that the bathroom is typically just used by employees in the pharmacy and is "typically just cleaned overnight because it's very rarely used." Liska Dep. at 82.

Discussion

Summary judgment is appropriate if "the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). To determine whether a genuine issue of material fact exists, the Court must view the record in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and draw reasonable inferences in that party's favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986); Lesch v. Crown Cork & Seal Co., 282 F.3d 467, 471 (7th Cir. 2002). A genuine issue of triable fact exists only if "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.

To recover on a negligence claim under Illinois law, the plaintiff must establish the existence of a duty owed by the defendant, a breach of that duty, and an injury proximately caused by the breach. Pavlik v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 323 Ill. App. 3d 1060, 1063, 753 N.E.2d 1007, 1010 (2001) (citing Miller v. Nat'l Assoc. Of Realtors, 271 Ill. App. 3d 653, 656, 648 N.E.2d 98, 100 (1994)). "If the plaintiff cannot establish an element of her cause of action, summary judgment for the defendant is proper." Id. (citing Pyne v. Witmer, 129 Ill. 2d 351, 358, 543 N.E.2d 1304, 1307 (1989)).

Both parties agree that Pita was Target's business invitee and that Target owed her a duty of reasonable care. See Marshall v. Burger King Corp., 222 Ill. 2d 422, 437, 856 N.E.2d 1048, 1057-58 (2006). Illinois law imposes upon businesses a duty to maintain their premises in a reasonably safe condition to avoid injuring their invitees. Reid v. Kohl's Dept. Stores, Inc., 545 F.3d 479, 481 (7th Cir. 2008) (citing Illinois cases). "A business owner breaches its duty to an invitee who slips on a foreign substance if '(1) the substance was there by the negligence of the proprietor or (2) [its] servant knew of its presence, or (3) the substance was there a sufficient length of time so that, in the exercise of ordinary care, its presence should have been discovered, i.e. ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.