Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, First Division
MICHAEL L. HEIDER, Plaintiff-Appellant,
DJG PIZZA, INC., d/b/a J.L.'S PIZZA & SPORTS BAR, Defendant-Appellee.
from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 17 L 2330
Honorable Patricia Sheahan Judge Presiding.
PRESIDING JUSTICE delivered the judgment of the court, with
opinion. Justices Pierce and Walker concurred in the judgment
1 While exiting the defendant's bar and restaurant the
plaintiff in this case slipped and fell on a patch of wet
concrete, suffering a broken leg that required multiple
surgeries and that continues to cause him pain and limited
mobility. The circuit court granted defendant's motion
for summary judgment on plaintiff's negligence claim,
concluding that plaintiff failed to present any evidence
regarding how the floor in that area came to be wet or
establishing that defendant had actual or constructive notice
of a dangerous condition on its property. For the reasons
that follow, we reverse.
2 I. BACKGROUND
3 Plaintiff Michael Heider fell on March 13, 2015, at
J.L.'s Pizza & Sports Bar (JL's Pizza), a sports
bar located in Palatine, Illinois. JL's Pizza has 5500
square feet of interior space and, at the time of the
incident, had about 16 customer tables. JL's Pizza has
only one main entrance, with an exterior door leading to a
vestibule and an interior door leading to the bar and
restaurant area. The floor of the bar by the interior door is
cement painted with Epoxy.
4 David Gagner, the owner of JL's Pizza, testified at his
deposition that a floor mat measuring approximately two feet
by four feet with a carpeted top and nonskid rubber backing
was positioned somewhere near the interior door on the day of
Mr. Heider's accident, . Mr. Gagner did not purchase this
mat; it was present when he purchased JL's Pizza, and he
had not moved the mat prior to Mr. Heider's fall. Mr.
Gagner explained that he had in fact purchased the business
only one day before the incident, on March 12, and was the
sole owner. He was not affiliated in any way with the prior
establishment, which had operated for some time under another
name, and had no prior experience running a bar or
5 Mr. Gagner testified that, after the bar closed on March
12, the area near the mat was swept and vacuumed but not
mopped. Mr. Gagner could not recall whether he had lifted the
mat and inspected it prior to the incident. According to him,
JL's Pizza had no written rules, regulations, policies,
or work procedures regarding floor maintenance at the time of
6 Three employees were present at JL's Pizza on March 13:
Mr. Gagner, a bartender, and a server. The bartender and
server were employees of the previous management who
continued working for a few days just to assist Mr. Gagner
during the transition period. There were also approximately
50 customers present the day of the incident.
7 Mr. Heider testified at his deposition that on March 13,
2015, he was working as a school bus driver and met some
coworkers at JL's Pizza shortly after 3 p.m., when his
shift ended that day. Two of those coworkers-Charles Brace
and Richard Butterly-arrived at the bar shortly after Mr.
Heider did and were also deposed in this case. All three
testified that they had been to JL's Pizza on a few other
8 According to Mr. Gagner, Mr. Heider, Mr. Brace, and Mr.
Butterly, the weather on March 13, 2015, was sunny and clear.
Mr. Heider, Mr. Brace, and Mr. Butterly did not see any
puddles as they walked up to the entrance of JL's Pizza.
They did not notice the positioning of the floor mat or any
dampness in the area. In fact, none of the three remembered
if a mat was even there when he entered the bar.
9 Mr. Heider, Mr. Brace, and Mr. Butterly were seated
together with their other coworkers at a table that,
according to Mr. Heider and Mr. Butterly, was about 10 to12
feet from the entryway. Each of the men was able to see the
entranceway from where he was seated, although Mr. Butterly
did not have a direct view of the front door and Mr. Heider
said he could see one corner of the door from where he was
seated. Mr. Butterly was unable to recall whether Mr. Heider
left the table at any point, but Mr. Brace stated that he
never saw Mr. Heider get up from the table. Mr. Heider stated
he only left the table when he decided to go home for the
day, shortly after 5 p.m. This timing was corroborated by Mr.
10 Mr. Heider testified that he did not observe any JL's
Pizza employee mopping or cleaning the bar's entryway or
inspecting it during the approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes
that he was seated in the bar. He noticed some customers
moving in and out of the bar but did not see anyone spill
anything. Mr. Butterly and Mr. Brace testified that they also
did not notice anyone spill anything or any employee of
JL's Pizza mopping near the entryway.
11 Mr. Heider testified that he had two 12-ounce bottles of
beer while he was at JL's Pizza and had eaten a sandwich
for lunch earlier that day. He stated that he was not
intoxicated when he got up to go home. Mr. Gagner, Mr. Brace,
and Mr. Butterly also testified that Mr. Heider did not
appear to be intoxicated at any time.
12 According to Mr. Heider, it was still quite bright
outside, and the lighting in the entryway was good when he
stood up to go home. Mr. Heider could see the concrete floor
of the entryway as he walked from the table to the door, and
he was looking straight ahead as he walked out. He did not
turn around to say good-bye to anyone. He did not look down
at the floor. As Mr. Heider walked closer to the door, his
right foot slid forward and his left foot slid back behind
him. He stated that it was "kind of, like a splits *** I
felt my back leg snap, and I went down." Mr. Heider was
certain that he slipped on the cement floor and not on the
mat. When he fell, he stated that his buttocks were on the
mat and his legs were sticking directly across the doorway.
Mr. Heider believes he slipped on water because when he
landed on the floor he was wet and the floor, although there
was no puddle, appeared damp. The mat was also wet. As he
propped himself up on it, he had to keep wiping his hands on
13 This was the first time Mr. Heider had noticed the mat. He
said it was at an angle and only a corner of it was in front
of the doorway. According to him, it looked as if someone or
something had pushed the mat away from the doorway and
"squeegeed" water onto the floor. Mr. Heider
acknowledged that he just assumed this was the case and did
not know for sure. Mr. Heider testified that he had not
noticed any dampness when he first walked into JL's
Pizza. He did not know how or when the water got on the
floor. At first he thought it had been tracked in by