ELLINGTON, P. J., ANDREWS and RICKMAN, JJ.
Hartman sued David Clark for damages after she slipped and
fell at a Chick-fil-A restaurant owned and operated by Clark.
Clark subsequently moved for summary judgment. The trial
court granted Clark's motion, and Hartman appeals. For
reasons that follow, we affirm.
judgment is appropriate when no genuine issues of material
fact remain and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law. See OCGA § 9-11-56 (c). We review a trial
court's summary judgment ruling de novo, construing
"the evidence most favorably towards the nonmoving
party, who is given the benefit of all reasonable doubts and
possible inferences."All American Quality Foods v.
Smith, 340 Ga.App. 393 (797 S.E.2d 259) (2017)
viewed, the record shows that Hartman visited Clark's
Chick-fil-A for dinner on February 6, 2013. After eating,
Hartman left her table to visit the restroom. She entered the
restroom, walked directly into the handicap stall, and used
the facility, remaining in the stall five to ten minutes. She
then exited, taking about two steps before she fell
backwards, twisting her ankle and injuring her back. At her
deposition, Hartman asserted that she slipped on water. She
also testified, however, that there was no water on the floor
when she entered the restroom and walked to the stall.
Georgia, "proof of a fall, without more, does not give
rise to liability on the part of a proprietor."
Id. at 395 (1) (punctuation omitted). To support a
premises liability claim, a plaintiff must show that the
proprietor had superior knowledge - either actual or
constructive - of the hazard that caused the plaintiff's
injury. See id. Hartman does not contend that Clark had
actual knowledge of the water on which she slipped. Instead,
she argues that questions of fact remain as to Clark's
constructive knowledge of the hazard, precluding summary
judgment. We disagree.
claimant may establish constructive knowledge by presenting
"evidence that the hazardous condition lasted so long
that it would have been discovered and removed if the
proprietor had exercised reasonable care in inspecting the
premises." Id. (punctuation omitted). According
to Hartman, the evidence raises factual questions about
Clark's inspection procedures and whether they were
followed on February 6, 2013. For a proprietor to be liable,
however, "the hazardous condition must have been in
place on the premises for a sufficient period of time such
that [he] should have discovered and removed the
hazard." Id. at 395 (1) (a) (punctuation
omitted). And Hartman testified unequivocally that no water
was on the floor when she entered the restroom five to ten
minutes before she fell.
undisputed evidence shows that, at most, the water on which
Hartman slipped remained on the floor for ten minutes.
Regardless of when restaurant employees last inspected the
restroom, this limited period of time was "insufficient
as a matter of law to hold that [Clark] should have
discovered and removed the liquid prior to [Hartman's]
fall." Id. at 396 (inspection-related evidence
irrelevant where evidence showed that hazardous substance was
on grocery store floor only six or seven minutes); see also
Gleaton v. APAC-Georgia, 228 Ga.App. 52, 55 (2) (491
S.E.2d 138 (1997) ("In cases involving grocery stores,
parking lots, and restaurants, we have found that 15 or 20
minutes was a legally insufficient amount of time for a
proprietor to discover a foreign substance on the
floor."); Mazur v. Food Giant, 183 Ga.App. 453,
454 (1) (359 S.E.2d 178) (1987) ("Where it appears a
foreign object had not been present for more than 10 to 15
minutes, the allegations show no actionable negligence on the
part of the proprietor in failing to discover it.")
appeal, Hartman urges us to interpret her deposition
testimony as meaning that she "merely did not see the
water on the floor when entering the stall." But her
testimony does not permit such interpretation. Hartman
clearly stated that there was no water on the floor when she
walked into the restroom. She never asserted that she did not
see the water. And she made no subsequent effort to
modify or explain her testimony. See Sunlink Health Sys.
v. Pettigrew, 286 Ga.App. 339, 341 (649 S.E.2d 532)
(2007) ("It is well established that on summary judgment
a party's self-contradictory testimony, if unexplained,
must be construed against the party-witness, even when the
party-witness is the respondent rather than the
movant."). Furthermore, although Hartman argues that the
water at issue could not have "miraculous[ly]
appear[ed], " she testified that she could not remember
whether anyone else (i.e., a person who could have spilled
the water) was in the restroom while she occupied the
record contains no evidence that Clark had superior knowledge
of the hazard on which Hartman fell. Accordingly, the trial
court properly granted Clark's motion for summary
judgment. See All American Quality Foods, supra.