United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Brunswick Division
PATRICIA D. DEVER, Plaintiff,
FAMILY DOLLAR STORES OF GEORGIA, LLC and DARRYL MARTIN, individually and as employee and agent of Family Dollar Stores of Georgia, LLC, Defendants.
.LISA GODBEY WOOD, JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT.
matter comes before the Court on Defendants' Darryl
Martin and Family Dollar Stores of Georgia, LLC's
("Family Dollar") Motions for Summary Judgment.
Dkt. Nos. 25, 27. Plaintiff opposes Family Dollar's
Motion but does not oppose Martin's Motion. These Motions
have been fully briefed and are ripe for review. For the
following reasons, both Motions are GRANTED.
March 13, 2015, Plaintiff Dever and her friend, Linda Odom,
woke up to a rainy morning in Brunswick, GA. Dkt. No. 27-
5/29-1 ¶ 1; Dkt. No. 27-2, 10:4-9. Plaintiff wanted a
poncho for the day's planned activities. Dkt. No.
27-5/29-1 ¶ 10; Dkt. No. 27-2, 10:7-9; Dkt. No. 27-3,
45:5. So, Plaintiff and Odom went to Family Dollar to
purchase one. Id. Family Dollar was just a few doors
down from the hotel where Plaintiff was staying. Dkt. No.
27-5/29-1 ¶ 2; Dkt. No. 27-3, 41:6-8. Plaintiff and Odom
got into Plaintiff's car, and Plaintiff drove to the
Family Dollar parking lot. Dkt. No. 27-5/29-1 ¶ 11; Dkt.
No. 27-2, 12:15; Dkt. No. 27-3, 44:16-23. It was still
raining when they parked in front of the store. Dkt. No.
27-5/29-1 ¶ 12; Dkt. No. 27-2, 14:2-6. Odom entered the
store first. Dkt. No. 27-5/29-1 ¶ 12; Dkt. No. 14:1-6,
15:3; Dkt. No. 27-3, 47:19. Shortly after Odom entered the
store, Plaintiff exited the car and walked through the rain
into the store. Dkt. No. 27-5/29-1 ¶ 14; Dkt. No. 27-2,
17:1-4; Dkt. No. 27-3, 47:8-15. Plaintiff was wearing flip
flops and talking on her cell phone with a friend. Dkt. No.
27-5/29-1 ¶ 15; Dkt. No. 27-3, 45:21-25. When she
entered the store, she noticed some water on the floor just
inside the doorway. Dkt. No. 27-5/29-1 ¶ 16; Dkt. No.
27-3, 49:19-25, 50:3. Plaintiff stated in her deposition that
she stepped on the concrete floor adjacent to the water on
the floor but did not step in the water itself. Dkt. No.
27-5/29-1 ¶¶ 18-19; Dkt. No. 27-3, 51:14-16,
51:1-6. While stepping on the floor next to the water and
ending her phone call, Plaintiff's right foot slipped out
from under her, and she fell to the floor. Dkt. No. 27-5/29-1
¶ 20; Dkt. No. 27-3, 49:1-11, 53:1, 52:9-16. Plaintiff
does not know what caused her to fall. Dkt. No. 27-5/29-1
¶ 21; Dkt. No. 27-3, 61:1.
day of the incident, non-party Deon Manning was the manager
of the Family Dollar and was present that morning. Dkt. No.
27-5/29-1 ¶ 4; Dkt. No. 27-4, 8:18-25. After Dever fell,
Manning called 911 to obtain help for her. Dkt. No. 27-5/29-1
¶ 22; Dkt. No. 27-4, 24:9-15. He then took photos of the
area and reviewed video footage of the incident. Dkt. No.
27-5/29-1 ¶¶ 23-24; Dkt. No. 27-4, 24:16-18,
that morning, Manning had opened the store and placed a wet
floor sign in the front area of the store. Dkt. Nos.
27-5/29-1 ¶ 6; Dkt. No. 27-4, 25:18-25. The front of the
store had a set of double doors. Dkt. Nos. 27-5/29-1 ¶
7; Dkt. No. 27-4, 26:1-5, 28:22-25, 29:1-4. The left hand
door had a mat in front of it, but there was no mat in front
of the right hand door. Id.
filed a premises liability action against Martin and Family
Dollar in the State Court of Glynn County on January 11,
2017. Dkt. No. 1-1. She alleges that she had fallen "on
a liquid substance" at the Family Dollar and sought
special damages in excess of $62, 000 plus damages for pain
and suffering and other medical expenses and special damages.
Id. ¶ 8. Defendants removed the action to this
Court on February 15, 2017. Dkt. No. 1.
judgment is appropriate only when the pleadings, depositions,
and affidavits submitted by the parties show that no genuine
issue of material fact exists and that the movant is entitled
to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). The court
should view the evidence and any inferences that may be drawn
in the light most favorable to the nonmovant. Adickes v.
S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 158-59 (1970). The
party seeking summary judgment must first identify grounds
that show the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24
(1986). The burden then shifts to the nonmovant, who must go
beyond the pleadings and present affirmative evidence to show
that a genuine issue of material fact does exist.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 257
(1986). The Court is mindful that "'routine'
issues of premises liability, i.e., the negligence of the
defendant and the plaintiff, and the plaintiff's lack of
ordinary care for personal safety are generally not
susceptible of summary adjudication, and that summary
judgment is granted only when the evidence is plain,
palpable, and undisputed." Robinson v. Kroger
Co., 493 S.E.2d 403, 414 (Ga. 1997).
Martin's Motion for Summary Judgment
Dever filed this premises liability case against both Family
Dollar and Martin. Plaintiff sued under O.C.G.A. §
51-3-1, which gives an invitee on certain premises a cause of
action against the owner or occupier of the premises. See
Poll v. Deli Mgmt., Inc., 2007 WL 2460769, *4 (N.D.Ga.
2007) ("As its language indicates, liability may only be
imposed under O.C.G.A. § 51-3-1 against an owner or
occupier of the subject premises."). Whether a person is
an owner or occupier of certain premises is a question that
can be decided as a matter of law. Food Giant, Inc. v.
Witherspoon, 359 S.E.2d 223, 225 (Ga.Ct.App. 1987).
Martin did not even work at the store at the time of the
fall. Understandably, "Plaintiff does not oppose the
grant of summary judgment to Defendant Darryl Martin."
Dkt. No. 29-2, p. 1. Therefore, the Court
GRANTS Martin's Motion for Summary
Family Dollar's Motion ...