Little v. Liberty Sav. Bank, FSB, A89A0477

Decision Date31 May 1989
Docket NumberNo. A89A0477,A89A0477
Citation191 Ga.App. 732,382 S.E.2d 734
CourtGeorgia Court of Appeals

J. Michael Carpenter, Macon, for appellants.

Mary M. Katz, Robert R. Gunn II, Macon, for appellee.


Patricia Ann Little and her husband, William Deryl Little, brought suit against Liberty Savings Bank, FSB and Adams Distributing Company d/b/a Macon Tile & Carpet Company to recover damages for injuries Mrs. Little sustained when she slipped and fell in the bank's building. The trial court granted summary judgment to Liberty Savings Bank, and the Littles appeal.

The record reveals that Mrs. Little was employed by INA Insurance Company, which rented office space in appellee's building. Appellee contracted with Adams Distributing to replace the carpeting in the eleventh floor hallway of the building. Mrs. Little testified by deposition that as she exited the elevator on the eleventh floor early in the afternoon of June 20, 1985, she and the others on the elevator noticed that the carpet had been removed, exposing the concrete floor. She walked down the bare hallway to the lunchroom, where she stayed for approximately 25 minutes. As she stepped back into the hallway from the lunchroom, which she testified had solid wood doors that swung outward (although there was testimony that the doors opened inward), upon taking her first step Mrs. Little slipped on carpet glue placed on the floor by employees of Adams Distributing and fell, injuring her leg and back. Mrs. Little recalled smelling the glue after she fell, and stated that the floor looked shiny and wet. William David Andre, appellee's operations manager, testified by affidavit that, other than requesting "that the carpeting be laid in stages so that persons in the building could use the hallways at all times," appellee gave no instructions to Adams Distributing regarding the method or manner of installation, and inspected the work only after completion.

Appellants contend the trial court erred by granting appellee's motion for summary judgment because material factual questions remain regarding whether Adams Distributing was acting as an independent contractor and whether appellee exercised the requisite degree of care.

"[W]here a landowner surrenders a portion of his premises to an independent contractor[,] the landowner is relieved of his duties with regard to the portion of the premises which he no longer controls. [Cit.] ... 'Possession may be defined as having personal charge of or exercising the rights of management or control over the property in question. Custody and control are the commonly accepted and generally understood incidents of possession.' [Cit.]" Towles v. Cox, 181 Ga.App. 194, 195-196, 351 S.E.2d 718 (1986). In the instant case, although there is evidence Adams Distributing was an independent contractor, the record also reveals that the hallway was kept open for use by appellee's tenants or invitees, and that appellee specifically instructed Adams Distributing to sequence the work so as to permit access to the hallway at all times. Accordingly, "it cannot be said that [Adams Distributing] had possession and control of the premises to the exclusion of [appellee] such that [appellee] had no duty of care as an owner for the safety of invitees on the premises. Under the circumstances, whether [appellee] as owner of the property, [Adams Distributing] as contractor, or both were in control of the premises and, therefore, 'responsible for the work,' should be decided by the jury. [Cit.]" Williams v. Nico Indus., 157 Ga.App. 814, 817(2)(b), 278 S.E.2d 677 (1981), overruled in part on other grounds, Malvarez v. Ga. Power Co., 250 Ga. 568, 569, 300 S.E.2d 145 (1983).

Appellee contends that the grant of summary judgment in its favor nevertheless was correct because Mrs. Little failed to exercise ordinary care to notice and avoid an obvious hazard. We do not agree.

To recover in a slip and fall case involving a foreign substance, "the plaintiff must show (1) that the defendant had actual or...

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9 cases
  • Johnson v. Clark
    • United States
    • Georgia Court of Appeals
    • July 16, 1998
    ...and complete possession of the premises to [Goodman Decorating] either on a temporary or permanent basis. Little v. Liberty Savings Bank, 191 Ga.App. 732, 382 S.E.2d 734 (1989); Towles v. Cox, [supra]." Feggans v. Kroger Co., 223 Ga.App. 47, 50(1), 476 S.E.2d 822 (1996). Under the facts of ......
  • Gunter v. U.S.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Middle District of North Carolina
    • May 26, 1998
    ...clearly recognized that knowledge is the key inquiry in situations similar to the one in the instant case. Little v. Liberty Savings Bank, FSB, 191 Ga.App. 732, 382 S.E.2d 734 (1989); Speaks v. Rouse Company of Georgia, 172 Ga.App. 9, 321 S.E.2d 774 (1984); Camp v. J.H. Kirkpatrick Co., 250......
  • Kelley v. Piggly Wiggly Southern, Inc.
    • United States
    • Georgia Court of Appeals
    • December 19, 1997
    ...See Bruno's Food Stores v. Taylor, supra; Alterman Foods v. Ligon, 246 Ga. 620, 272 S.E.2d 327 (1980); see Little v. Liberty Savings Bank, 191 Ga.App. 732, 382 S.E.2d 734 (1989). "Because the owner or occupier's duties to keep the premises and approaches safe are statutory (OCGA § 51-3-1), ......
  • Feggans v. Kroger Co., A96A2087
    • United States
    • Georgia Court of Appeals
    • October 2, 1996
    ...and complete possession of the premises to Precision Floor Care either on a temporary or permanent basis. Little v. Liberty Savings Bank, 191 Ga.App. 732, 382 S.E.2d 734 (1989); Towles v. Cox, 181 Ga.App. 194, 351 S.E.2d 718 (1986). In the case sub judice, appellee is a grocery retailer who......
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