United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Robert Blakey United States District Judge
Jacqueline Coleman (“Plaintiff” or
“Coleman”) allegedly slipped while shopping at a
store owned and managed by Defendant Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
(“Defendant” or “Wal-Mart”).
Plaintiff alleges that Wal-Mart's negligence caused her
injuries, [1-1], and Wal-Mart has moved for summary judgment.
 at 1. For the reasons explained below, Wal-Mart's
motion is denied.
August 23, 2012, Plaintiff and her son were shopping at the
Wal-Mart store in Lansing, Illinois.  at 3. The parties
agree that at approximately 12:10 p.m., Plaintiff was
perusing the store's “back-to-school” aisle.
 at 3. She examined a folder, returned it to the shelf,
and turned to walk away when her foot slipped on
“rusted orange” liquid located on the floor.
Id. The liquid in question was “under” a
“garden cart” left in the back-to-school aisle by
Wal-Mart employee Alice Dugan. Id. at 1-3.
parties further agree that Ms. Dugan first exited the
back-to-school aisle, leaving the garden cart behind, at some
point between 11:30 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. Id. at 1.
Ms. Dugan testified that there was no liquid on the floor of
the back-to school aisle when she first arrived.  at 4.
She further testified that the garden cart was in the exact
position she left it when she returned to the back-to-school
aisle. Id. A soiled paper towel and a paper towel
roll were both found on the garden cart after Plaintiff's
fall, though the parties disagree as to both how the paper
towels got there and how they were used.  at 3-4; see
Plaintiff nor her son nor any Wal-Mart employee knew: (1)
what caused the liquid to be on the floor of the
back-to-school aisle; or (2) how long the liquid had been
there before Plaintiff's fall.  at 7-8.
Wal-Mart employees are required to conduct periodic safety
sweeps.  at 5. In addition to Ms. Dugan, two other
Wal-Mart employees (Jessica Ann Turner and David Schmalz)
were working near the back-to-school aisle when Plaintiff
fell. Id. Two different Wal-Mart employees (Franchot
Reed and David Fountain) were specifically responsible for
maintaining the store's floors on the date of
Plaintiff's accident. Id. at 6.
judgment is appropriate if the movant shows that there is no
genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Spurling v. C
& M Fine Pack, Inc., 739 F.3d 1055, 1060 (7th Cir.
2014). A genuine dispute as to any material fact exists if
“the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could
return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson
v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). The
party seeking summary judgment has the burden of establishing
that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact.
See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323
(1986). In determining whether a genuine issue of material
fact exists, this Court must construe all facts and
reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the
nonmoving party. See CTL ex rel. Trebatoski v. Ashland
Sch. Dist., 743 F.3d 524, 528 (7th Cir. 2014).
argues that it is entitled to summary judgment on
Plaintiff's negligence claim because: (1) Defendant
lacked the requisite notice of the liquid that caused
Plaintiff's fall; and (2) Plaintiff was contributorily
negligent. The Court addresses each in turn.
retailers owe their invitees a duty to maintain their
premises in a reasonably safe condition. Marshall v.
Burger King Corp., 856 N.E.2d 1048, 1057-58 (Ill. 2006).
A retailer breaches this duty if an invitee slips on a
foreign substance and “the invitee establishes, ”
inter alia, that “the business had actual
notice of the substance, ” or “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., the business had constructive notice of the
substance.” Zuppardi v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.,
770 F.3d 644, 649 (7th Cir. 2014). Constructive notice can be
established under Illinois law by either presenting evidence
that: “(1) the dangerous condition existed for a
sufficient amount of time so that it would have been
discovered by the exercise of ordinary care; or (2) the
dangerous condition was part of a pattern of conduct or a
recurring incident.” Zuppardi, 770 F.3d at 651
(7th Cir. 2014).
Seventh Circuit has observed that in lieu of a
“bright-line rule” governing “the requisite
time to establish notice, ” Illinois courts have
instead adopted a case-by-case approach that examines both
the length of time the spill existed and the surrounding
“circumstances.” Reid v. Kohl's Dep't
Stores, Inc., 545 F.3d 479, 483 (7th Cir. 2008).
Relevant circumstances include the area where the spill
occurred, the time the spill occurred, the visibility of the
spill, and the store's policies on patrolling its aisles
for spills. Id. at 481-82. The
“critical” question is “whether the