Fritts v. Collins

Decision Date15 August 1962
Docket NumberNo. 2650,2650
Citation144 So.2d 850
PartiesMartha FRITTS and her husband, Harry F. Fritts, Appellants, v. Walter L. COLLINS, Appellee.
CourtFlorida District Court of Appeals

William M. Hicks and Alan R. Schwartz of Nichols, Gaither, Beckham, Colson & Spence, Miami, for appellants.

Timothy P. Poulton and William A. Foster of Jones, Adams, Paine & Foster, West Palm Beach, for appellee.

SHANNON, Chief Judge.

The appellants, who were plaintiffs in the court below, bring this appeal, urging error of the trial judge below in entering a judgment non obstante veredicto on behalf of defendant when the plaintiffs had secured a verdict from the jury.

The plaintiffs, Martha Fritts and her husband, Harry F. Fritts, checked into a motel in Belle Glade, Florida, which was operated by the appellee, Walter L. Collins. The next morning Mrs. Fritts, fifty-four years old, entered the stall shower in the bath of her motel room. Neither she nor her husband had used this shower before that time. There was no indication of anything wrong with the terrazzo floor of the shower. Mrs. Fritts described it in her testimony as:

'* * * I turned the water on to get it the right temperature before I stepped into the stall. I stepped in. I had only been there a minute and was washing my face with the rag--I had no soap--and I wasn't moving except just the motion of my body in washing my face. I might have moved my foot possibly a little bit but certainly not turning around or anything like that. Both feet slipped out from under me straight like that (indicating).'

The surface of the floor upon which she slipped had become 'slick, [and] felt greasy,' reminding the witness of a 'greasy biscuit pan.' The surface of the terrazzo floor was unlike any that the witness had ever encountered before. The defendant's maid had used a commercial disinfectant called Steri-zone on the floor of the shower each time a guest checked out, and thus the product had been employed prior to Mrs. Fritts's occupancy of the room, the day before the accident. The expert testimony showed that untreated terrazzo surface is not slippery in either a dry or a wet condition. The expert showed that the floor in question produced the same results.

Steri-zone is a proper product for use on terrazzo floors when it is completely removed therefrom. When it is not completely removed from the surface, the residual Steri-zone dries and forms an invisible film over the terrazzo and when the floor becomes wet it becomes dangerously slippery. Mrs. Fritts testified that she had not used soap and hence the jury could properly infer that the maid had left Steri-zone on the floor. Motion for directed verdict was made by the defendant at the conclusion of all of the testimony and this motion was reserved by the court. After a verdict for the plaintiffs the court entered a judgment for the defendant on the reserved motion for directed verdict on which he had reserved his ruling. The court below predicated its order on the fact that allowing the judgment to stand under the evidence would constitute an inference upon an inference upon an inference.

While, in Florida there may not be a recovery for a party who, without explanation, slips down on a floor, a jury question is present when the evidence shows there was invisible substance on the floor which caused the party to fall. This is borne out by several decisions, both in Florida and elsewhere.

In First Federal Savings & Loan Ass'n v. Wylie, Fla.1950, 46 So.2d 396, the Supreme Court affirmed a judgment for the plaintiff who slipped upon a waxed floor in a public hallway of an office building. In that case the charge of negligence against the defendant was that defendant negligently and carelessly maintained the floor whereby the same became unsafe for the accommodation of pedestrian traffic. As to the facts of the injuries in this case, the record shows that the plaintiff,

'* * * [a]s she made her first step from the rubber strip onto the waxed surface of the masonite tiling she slipped and fell and thereby sustained the injuries which were the basis for her suit.

* * *

* * *

'* * * [I]mmediately after the accident she examined the flooring where she had fallen and found that although there was no foreign substance there, such as oil or banana peeling, there was a deep skid mark about 12 to 20 inches long in the immediate location where she had slid and there was an accumulation of wax on the bottom of the heel of her...

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9 cases
  • Clarke v. Marriott Int'l, Inc., Civil Action No. 2008-086
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Virgin Islands
    • February 6, 2014
    ...been given); Wells v. Howard, 439 P.2d 997 (Colo. 1968) (facts regarding safety bars and handholds disputed); Fritts v. Collins, 144 So. 2d 850, 851 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1962) (foreign substance); Lincoln Operating Co. v. Gillis, 114 N.E.2d 873, 875 (Ind. 1953) (foreign substance). Those ca......
  • Troya v. Miami Beach Health Care Group, Inc.
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • February 14, 2001
    ...251 So.2d 899 (Fla. 1st DCA 1971); Thee; see also First Fed. Sav. & Loan Ass'n v. Wylie, 46 So.2d 396 (Fla. 1950); Fritts v. Collins, 144 So.2d 850 (Fla. 2d DCA 1962). This evidence therefore requires the reversal of the summary judgment granted below and a remand for trial. See Chaney; Rev......
  • Partelow v. Edgar, 1644
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • February 27, 1969
    ...v. Eder, Fla.1967, 195 So.2d 211; no evidence was presented that a foreign substance had been applied to the terrazzo, Fritts v. Collins, Fla.App.1962, 144 So.2d 850; nor was Mrs. Partelow's fall caused by any defect occurring through wear or the passage of time, Mass Bros., Inc. v. Bishop,......
  • McCanick v. W.J.A. Realty Ltd. Partnership, 87-371
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • December 22, 1987
    ...Carls Markets, Inc. v. Meyer, 69 So.2d 789 (Fla.1953); First Fed. Sav. & Loan Ass'n v. Wylie, 46 So.2d 396 (Fla.1950); Fritts v. Collins, 144 So.2d 850 (Fla. 2d DCA 1962); 41 Fla.Jur.2d Premises Liability § 21 (1983). 1 The cause is therefore remanded for a new Reversed. 1 Because of our co......
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