In Mooney v. Genuine Parts Co. d/b/a National Automotive Association, Inc., No., W2015-02080-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. May 11, 2016), the Tennessee Court of Appeals affirmed summary judgment for defendant retail store in a premises liability action.
Plaintiff had entered the automotive parts store to apply for a job. After being told the position was filled, she left through the same door she had previously entered and fell. Plaintiff filed a premises liability suit, claiming that the doorway constituted a dangerous condition. Plaintiff alleged that the concrete outside the store was 3.5 inches below the interior floor, that the drop-off is what caused her fall, and that the dangerous condition “could have been remedied by a ramp, contrasting floor material or paint, handrails, or warning signs.”
Defendant moved for summary judgment, claiming they “had no duty to warn [plaintiff] of the three-and-on-half-inch step-down at the doorway because it was not foreseeable that anyone would fall because of it.” In support of its motion, defendant pointed to evidence that no one had ever fallen during the 26 years the store manager had worked there, that plaintiff herself had traversed the doorway just a few minutes earlier, and that plaintiff had admitted that “she was not looking down at the step when she exited the door and fell.” In replying to this motion, plaintiff relied on her own deposition testimony, the store manager’s testimony that he had stumbled before going out the door, and a former employee’s testimony that he could see where the decline could cause someone to fall. The trial court granted defendant’s motion for summary judgment, and the Court of Appeals affirmed.