Alterman Foods, Inc. v. Munford, 70973

Decision Date13 February 1986
Docket NumberNo. 70973,70973
Citation342 S.E.2d 480,178 Ga.App. 214
CourtGeorgia Court of Appeals

J. Barrington Vaught, Columbus, for appellant.

David A. Kendrick, Columbus, for appellee.


Annie Munford brought this action against Alterman Foods, Inc. (Alterman) to recover damages for personal injuries received in a fall in one of Alterman's stores. We granted Alterman's interlocutory appeal from the trial court's denial of its motion for summary judgment.

Appellee slipped on some accumulated rain water as she stepped on a rubber mat just inside the door to appellant's store. Prior to appellee's fall, appellant's bag boy had placed a "wet floor" sign approximately six feet directly in front of the door and had been instructed to mop the entrance area periodically in accordance with appellant's procedure on rainy days.

Appellant contends the trial court erred by denying its motion for summary judgment because there was no question of fact that its knowledge of the presence of rain water was not superior to that of appellee. "In 1965 [sic], we issued a comprehensive opinion on the issue of liability in cases of slip and fall specifically on floors made wet by rain conditions. [Cit.] In summary, we concluded that the owner of such premises is not an insurer of safety of persons invited therein, nor is there any presumption of negligence on the part of the owner or occupier merely upon a showing of injury. [Cit.] The true ground of liability is the proprietor's superior knowledge of the perilous instrumentality and the danger therefrom to persons going upon the property. It is when the perilous instrumentality is known to the owner or occupant, and not known to the person injured, that a recovery is permitted. [Cits.] It is common knowledge that when people enter any building in rainy conditions, moisture is tracked in and the inside of the door is likely to be wet; it is a matter of common knowledge that some water will normally be present where shoppers pass during rainy weather. [Cits.] It is not the duty of persons in control of such buildings to keep a large force of moppers to remove the rain as fast as it collects. [Cit.] The duty owed to such invitees is one of ordinary care, or to protect against an unreasonable risk of harm. [Cit.] The risk of harm imposed by some accumulation of water on the floor of business premises during rainy days is not unusual or unreasonable in itself, but is one to which all who go out on a rainy day may be exposed and which all may expect or anticipate. [Cits.] 'Even if the rainfall had [subsided to a drizzle, as appellee contends] it seems obvious that [appellant], and others in a like position, must be afforded a reasonable opportunity for mopping the water from the floor. Until such time as one who enters might reasonably expect to find the floor free of water he should expect to find water present.' [Cit.]" Colbert v. Piggly Wiggly Southern, 175 Ga.App. 44, 45(1), 332 S.E.2d 304 (1985).

In the case sub judice, appellant's employee had been assigned to mop the area in front of the doorway regularly because of accumulated water. Further, although appellee denies seeing it, it is uncontroverted that the "wet floor" sign was placed approximately six feet immediately in front of the entrance. "This was reasonable and ordinary care on [appellant's] part, even assuming ... [appellee] did not have equal knowledge of the hazard. To say otherwise would render [appellant] an insurer of its customers' safety, which [it] is not in this state. [Cit.] ... There is simply no evidence of negligence on the part of this [appellant]. To the contrary, the evidence is undisputed that, under the rainy conditions, [appellant] exercised 'such diligence toward making the store safe as a good business man is in such matters accustomed to use. [Cits.]' [Cits.]" Id. at 45-46, 332 S.E.2d 304.

Moreover, regardless whether appellant was negligent, summary judgment in its favor is demanded because of appellee's failure to exercise ordinary care for her own safety. A...

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17 cases
  • Helms v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., Civ. No. 1:91-cv-1532-JEC.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Georgia
    • 4 d5 Setembro d5 1992
    ...Id. at 304, 348 S.E.2d 766. The court of appeals reversed the trial court's denial of summary judgment in Alterman Foods, Inc. v. Munford, 178 Ga. App. 214, 342 S.E.2d 480 (1986). There, the plaintiff had slipped on some accumulated rain water on a rubber mat just inside the store door. The......
  • Hazard v. Medlock Tavern, Inc.
    • United States
    • Georgia Court of Appeals
    • 19 d5 Agosto d5 2022
    ...accord Walker , 278 Ga. App. at 680 (2), 629 S.E.2d 561 ; Cook , 183 Ga. App. at 385, 358 S.E.2d 869 ; Alterman Foods, Inc. v. Munford , 178 Ga. App. 214, 214, 342 S.E.2d 480 (1986).10 Robinson v. Kroger Co. , 268 Ga. 735, 748–749 (2) (B), 493 S.E.2d 403 (1997) ; accord Edwards v. Ingles Mk......
  • Perkins v. Compass Group Use, Inc.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Georgia
    • 7 d3 Março d3 2007
    ...would render [appellee] an insurer of its customers' safety, which (it) is not in this state.'" Id. (quoting Alterman Foods v. Munford, 178 Ga. App. 214, 215, 342 S.E.2d 480 (1986)). Similarly, Gamble's placement of the wet floor sign in-between the two hallways, before she began her clean-......
  • Coates v. Mulji Motor Inn, Inc., 70948
    • United States
    • Georgia Court of Appeals
    • 18 d2 Fevereiro d2 1986
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