Lewis Grocer Co. v. Williamson

Decision Date31 August 1983
Docket NumberNo. 53878,53878
Citation436 So.2d 1378
CourtMississippi Supreme Court

Roberts & Easterling, M.M. Roberts, Aultman, Tyner, Weathers & Gunn, Lawrence C. Gunn, Jr., Hattiesburg, for appellant.

Milton A. Schlesinger, William F. Porter, Hattiesburg, for appellee.


ROY NOBLE LEE, Justice, for the Court:

Tracy L. Williamson filed suit against The Lewis Grocer Company and Mrs. B.R. Noel in the Circuit Court of Lamar County, Honorable R.I. Prichard, III, presiding, for personal injuries sustained from a fall. At the conclusion of all the evidence, a nonsuit was taken as to Mrs. Noel, the case was submitted to the jury, and a verdict of $75,000 was returned in favor of Williamson. The Lewis Grocer Company has appealed here and assigns eight errors in the trial below.

Five of the assigned errors may be consolidated into one question, viz, that the court erred in declining to grant a directed verdict in favor of the appellant, The Lewis Grocer Company, at the conclusion of all the evidence.

The evidence favorable to appellee indicates that, on October 16, 1978, he and a companion, Roy Bounds, drove from Purvis, Mississippi, to Hattiesburg, Mississippi, for the purpose of attending a movie. They arrived in Hattiesburg about 8:30 p.m., and drove to a Mr. Quik store at the corner of Hardy Street and 40th Avenue to purchase a six-pack of beer. The Mr. Quik store was glassed at the front with a four-foot walk running the length of the front, with a glass door opening to the inside. Several feet in front of the walk were a number of concrete parking bumpers, approximately six feet long, and about the width of an automobile, which stopped a vehicle from running upon the walk and possibly through the glass of the building. A four-foot square mat customarily was on the walk and against the glass door for use as customers went into the building.

When appellee drove through the parking lot up to the store, he stopped at one of the parking bumpers. The area was dimly lighted, there being only one light at the end of the building and one at the gas pumps in the parking area.

The mat was not at the front door, but had been moved. It was draped partly over the parking bumper on appellee's side and part of it was in the area between the bumper and the walk and over the end of the parking bumper into the parking lot. The mat was similar in color to the asphalt covering of the parking area, and, as appellee got out of his car and started toward the door, which was across the area where the mat lay, he was unable to see the mat and fell and injured his left knee. Appellee got up and went into the store, but was unable to make his purchase because of the pain in his knee. He returned to the automobile and Bounds went into the store, concluded the purchase, and talked with the lady on duty about the accident. The two of them went to the mat, moved it from the bumper and parking area, and placed it back at the front door of the building. Subsequently, appellee was seen and treated by a physician who eventually operated on his knee. He sustained serious injuries which were permanent.

In Georgia-Pacific Corp. v. Blakeney, 353 So.2d 769 (Miss.1978), the Court again stated the principle relating to motions for directed verdicts:

The rule, in determining whether a motion for directed verdict should be granted, requires the trial judge to consider the evidence on behalf of the party against whom a directed verdict is requested, along with all reasonable inferences, in the light most favorable to said party, disregard any evidence of the other party in conflict therewith, and, if the evidence and reasonable inferences to be drawn therefrom would support a verdict for such party, the motion for directed verdict should be denied. (Here the motion for directed verdict actually was a request for peremptory instruction). Paymaster Oil Mill Co. v. Mitchell, 319 So.2d 652 (Miss.1975); White v. Thomason, 310 So.2d 914 (Miss.1975); Williams v. Weeks, 268 So.2d 340 (Miss.1972); Clark v. Luther McGill, Inc., 240 Miss. 509, 127 So.2d 858 (1961); Sumrall Motor Co. v. Creel, 158 Miss. 262, 130 So. 151 (1930). .

When the plaintiff rested his case, the appellant called only one witness to the stand. He did not work for the appellant at the Mr. Quik location until sometime after the accident. Thus, the only proof in the record as to the condition of the premises and as to what happened was made by the appellee. The evidence and inferences show that the store operator's station was only a few feet from the front door where the mat was usually located. In the exercise of reasonable care, that individual knew, or should have known, that the mat had been removed and placed in another location. Therefore, the jury could have believed from the evidence that appellant had actual or constructive notice as to the condition of the premises, including poor lighting and the location of the mat draped over the bumper stop, and that such premises constituted a hazard and danger to the invited public.

While the cases of Mississippi Winn-Dixie Supermarkets, Inc. v. Hughes, 247 Miss. 575, 156 So.2d 734 (1963), and Millers of Jackson, Meadowbrook Road, Inc. v. Newell, 341 So.2d 101 (Miss.1976), are not exactly similar to the case sub judice, since a condition was created within the store building by persons, who were probably customers, we think that actual...

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13 cases
  • Cochran v. A/H BATTERY ASSOCIATES, 92 Civ. 5116.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Southern District of New York
    • December 26, 1995
    ...permanent injuries to wrist and knee, severe pain, and considerable restriction of once active lifestyle); Lewis Grocer Co. v. Williamson, 436 So.2d 1378 (Miss. 1983) (plaintiff who suffered badly sprained knee requiring surgery, placed in a long cast, needed crutches for several months and......
  • Caruso v. Picayune Pizza Hut, Inc.
    • United States
    • Mississippi Supreme Court
    • April 22, 1992
    ...Jerry Lee's Grocery, Inc. v. Thompson; McIntosh v. Deas; Edwards v. Cleveland Food, Inc., 437 So.2d 56 (Miss.1983); Lewis Grocer Co. v. Williamson, 436 So.2d 1378 (Miss.1983); F.W. Woolworth Co. v. Stokes, 191 So.2d 411 (Miss.1966). This case is before us on a jury verdict, not a directed v......
  • Adkins v. Sanders, No. 2000-CT-01885-SCT.
    • United States
    • Mississippi Supreme Court
    • April 29, 2004
    ...Copeland v. City of Jackson, 548 So.2d 970, 973 (Miss.1989); Hill v. Dunaway, 487 So.2d 807, 809 (Miss. 1986); Lewis Grocer Co. v. Williamson, 436 So.2d 1378, 1380 (Miss.1983)). See also West, 661 So.2d at 721. Requested Instruction P-21 When a defendant tells a patient he can achieve a goo......
  • Church v. Massey
    • United States
    • Mississippi Supreme Court
    • June 26, 1997
    ...the law. Copeland v. City of Jackson, 548 So.2d 970, 973 (Miss.1989); Hill v. Dunaway, 487 So.2d 807 (Miss.1986); Lewis Grocer Co. v. Williamson, 436 So.2d 1378 (Miss.1983). However, if the other instructions granted adequately instruct the jury, a party may not complain of the refused inst......
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