Hannah Piotrowski and James M. Piotrowski, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
Menard, Inc., Defendant-Appellee.
May 23, 2016
from the United States District Court for the Northern
District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 13 CV 05572 -
Mary M. Rowland, Magistrate Judge.
Bauer, Posner, and Williams, Circuit Judges.
WILLIAMS, CIRCUIT JUDGE.
Piotrowski was injured after slipping on two small rocks in
the parking lot of a Menard store. She filed this suit
alleging that her injuries were due to Menard's
negligence, contending that the rocks must have come from a
planter that Menard maintained outside the store or from
decorative rocks that the store sold in bags of at least
forty pounds. We affirm the district court's grant of
summary judgment in favor of the store because
Piotrowski's belief that she fell as a result of the
store's negligence is only speculation, and speculation
is not enough to survive summary judgment under Illinois law.
That Piotrowski fell in the Menard's parking lot after
slipping on two rocks is not enough to support an inference
that Menard's negligence caused the fall. In addition,
there is no evidence of a pattern of conduct or recurring
incident, and the store's general manager and employees
regularly monitored the parking lot for unsafe conditions.
Piotrowski and her husband went shopping at a Menard home
improvement store in Hodgkins, Illinois on April 14, 2012.
While walking in the parking lot toward their vehicle,
Piotrowski stepped on one or two small rocks that she had not
seen before stepping on them and fell, very hard. Piotrowski
described the rocks as oval in shape and larger than marbles.
she fell, Piotrowski was in the area outside the store
entrance and exit used for vehicle drop-offs. About 50 to 125
feet away, there is a large, half-moon shaped concrete
planter with a small tree and bush in the center. Decorative
"river rock" fills the planter. The rock needed to
be replenished from time to time, and the store's general
manager said that rock was added to the planter
"whenever it looks a little bare." The planter was
near the store's exit, and the store's front end
manager had seen children in the planter on occasion. Menard
also sold decorative river rock in the garden center of its
store in large bags weighing forty to fifty pounds.
store's general manager walked the store's premises,
including the parking lot, on a daily basis. More
specifically, he explained that he walks "every square
foot of our store, our parking lot, my outside yard, and our
perimeter" every day as part of his duties as general
manager. Other employees also walked through the parking lot
throughout the day and were responsible for reporting any
went by ambulance to the hospital after her fall and was
treated for fracture, torn ligaments, and dislocation of her
right elbow. Her injuries required four additional
hospitalizations and three more surgeries within the first
year of the accident.
and her husband filed suit in the Circuit Court of Cook
County, Illinois against Menard, Inc. alleging negligence and
loss of consortium. Menard removed the case to federal court
on the basis of diversity jurisdiction. The judge granted
Menard's motion for summary judgment, and this appeal
question on appeal, as it was before the district court, is
whether Piotrowski has set forth sufficient evidence to
proceed to trial on whether Menard's negligence caused
Piotrowski's fall. We review the grant of summary
judgment to Menard de novo, viewing all evidence in the light
most favorable to Piotrowski as the non-movant at summary
judgment. Farrell v. Butler Univ., 421 F.3d 609, 612
(7th Cir. 2005). Summary judgment is proper when there is no
genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a).
law governs in this diversity case. A plaintiff like
Piotrowski who alleges that the defendant was negligent must
show a duty owed by the defendant, a breach of that duty, and
injury that was proximately caused by the breach.
Newsom-Bogan v. Wendy's Old Fashioned Hamburgers of
N.Y., Inc.,953 N.E.2d 427, 431 (111. App. Ct. 2011). In
Illinois, a business like Menard owes customers a duty to
maintain its premises in a reasonably safe condition to avoid
injuries to those customers. Zujrpardi v. Wal-Mart
Stores, Inc.,770 F.3d 644, 649 (7th Cir. 2014). The
parties agree that Menard owed ...