Reed v. Galaxy Holdings, Inc.

Decision Date20 August 2009
Docket NumberNo. 1-08-2443.,1-08-2443.
Citation914 N.E.2d 632
PartiesOletha REED, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. GALAXY HOLDINGS, INC., an Illinois Corporation, d/b/a Laundry World, Defendant-Appellee.
CourtUnited States Appellate Court of Illinois

Steven J. Morton & Associates, Ltd., Chicago, IL (Steven J. Morton, Jane H. Kim, of counsel), for Appellant.

Law Offices of Loretta M. Griffin, Chicago, IL (Loretta M. Griffin, Ana Maria L. Downs, of counsel), for Appellee.

Justice GALLAGHER delivered the opinion of the court:

In this negligence lawsuit, plaintiff Oletha Reed appeals the trial court's order granting summary judgment in favor of defendant Galaxy Holdings, Inc., d/b/a Laundry World. Plaintiff, a business invitee, sued defendant, a business operator, for personal injuries plaintiff allegedly sustained when she slipped and fell on a puddle of water when entering defendant's Laundromat. Applying the Illinois natural accumulation rule, the trial court granted summary judgment in defendant's favor. On appeal, plaintiff contends that the trial court erred in granting defendant's summary judgment motion because a genuine issue of material fact exists as to whether defendant breached a duty owed to plaintiff to provide a reasonably safe means of ingress and egress. Plaintiff also contends that by its own voluntary undertaking, defendant assumed a duty to provide its business invitees with a safe means of ingress and egress. Plaintiff further contends that defendant failed to demonstrate that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law because a conflict in law exists among the districts of this court. For the reasons stated below, we affirm.

BACKGROUND

Defendant occupies and operates Laundry World Laundromat. The Laundromat's entranceway contains two sets of doors. The first set of doors allows entry from the outside into an interior vestibule area, and the second set of doors allows entry from the interior vestibule area into the Laundromat's main area. Before plaintiff arrived at the Laundromat on November 27, 2005, defendant's employee positioned one mat in the vestibule area between the first and second set of doors and a second mat inside the Laundromat beyond the second set of doors.

After arriving at the laundromat, plaintiff entered the Laundromat approximately two to three times to unload laundry from her car. After unloading her laundry and parking her car, plaintiff entered into the vestibule area from the outside and slipped and fell on a puddle of water as she stepped off the first mat and onto the bare vestibule floor.

Plaintiff brought an action against defendant for personal injuries resulting from defendant's alleged negligence in maintaining, upkeeping and inspecting the property. Plaintiff alleged that defendant was negligent for allowing the floor to become and remain in a wet and slippery condition, failing to dry the floor, failing to place "wet floor" signs or otherwise warn of the wet area, and failing to provide a safe means of ingress and egress.

Defendant denied all allegations of negligence and filed a motion for summary judgment on December 12, 2007.

During plaintiff's deposition, plaintiff testified that it was drizzling at the time of the incident and that the parking lot and concrete landing near the entranceway were wet. Identifying no other source for the puddle of water, plaintiff testified that from her understanding, the wetness came from the outside. Plaintiff also testified that defendant allowed the puddle of water to exist for approximately 60 to 90 minutes without making an attempt to dry the floor.

The Laundromat's manager testified during his deposition that when it rained or snowed outside, he expected the Laundromat's employees to place four mats at the entrance at all times, to place five safety cones around the store to warn of the wet floors, and to mop and towel dry the floor when possible.

On August 4, 2008, the trial court granted defendant's motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff timely appealed.

ANALYSIS

This court reviews an order granting summary judgment de novo. Judge-Zeit v. General Parking Corp., 376 Ill. App.3d 573, 578, 314 Ill.Dec. 922, 875 N.E.2d 1209, 1214 (2007). Summary judgment "shall be rendered without delay if the pleadings, depositions, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." 735 ILCS 5/2-1005(c) (West 2006). Construing the evidence in a light most favorable to the nonmoving party, a trial court may only grant summary judgment if the record shows that the movant's right to relief is clear and free from doubt. Judge-Zeit, 376 Ill.App.3d at 579, 314 Ill. Dec. 922, 875 N.E.2d at 1214. In cases involving injuries resulting from accumulations of ice, snow, or water, "[i]n order to withstand a motion for summary judgment, a plaintiff must come forward with sufficient evidentiary materials to permit the trier of fact to find that defendant was responsible for an unnatural accumulation of water, ice or snow that caused plaintiff's injuries." Bloom v. Bistro Restaurant Ltd. Partnership, 304 Ill.App.3d 707, 710, 237 Ill.Dec. 698, 710 N.E.2d 121, 123 (1999).

Plaintiff argues on appeal that defendant owed Plaintiff a duty to remove the water on the floor or to provide a warning about the floor's wet condition. Plaintiff claims that defendant's common law duty to provide its business invitees with a reasonably safe means of ingress to and egress from its place of business is not abrogated by the natural accumulation rule. Therefore, plaintiff contends that the trial court erred in granting summary judgment in defendant's favor on the basis that plaintiff did not allege that defendant owed plaintiff a duty.

The essential elements of a common law negligence cause of action are the existence of a duty owed by the defendant to the plaintiff, a breach of that duty, and an injury caused by that breach. Judge-Zeit, 376 Ill.App.3d at 579-80, 314 Ill.Dec. 922, 875 N.E.2d at 1215. Whether a duty of care exists is a question of law to be decided by the court. Roberson v. J.C. Penney Co., 251 Ill.App.3d 523, 526, 191 Ill.Dec. 119, 623 N.E.2d 364, 366 (1993).

Plaintiff correctly states that property owners and business operators have a general duty to provide a reasonably safe means of ingress to and egress from their business. Judge-Zeit, 376 Ill. App.3d at 580, 314 Ill.Dec. 922, 875 N.E.2d at 1215; Bloom, 304 Ill.App.3d at 711, 237 Ill.Dec. 698, 710 N.E.2d at 124. Illinois law, however, is well settled that property owners as well as business operators are not liable for injuries resulting from the natural accumulation of ice, snow, or water that is tracked inside the premises from the outside. Branson v. R & L Investment, Inc., 196 Ill.App.3d 1088, 1092, 143 Ill.Dec. 689, 554 N.E.2d 624, 628 (1990); see Clark v. Carson Pirie Scott & Co., 340 Ill.App. 260, 264-65, 91 N.E.2d 452, 454 (1950), citing Murray v. Bedell Co. of Chicago, 256 Ill.App. 247 (1930). Under the natural accumulation rule, property owners and business operators do not have a duty to remove the tracks or residue left inside the building by customers who have walked through natural accumulations outside the building. Roberson, 251 Ill. App.3d at 528, 191 Ill.Dec. 119, 623 N.E.2d at 367. It is irrelevant whether a natural accumulation remains on the property for an "unreasonable" length of time. See Kellermann v. Car City Chevrolet-Nissan, Inc., 306 Ill.App.3d 285, 288, 239 Ill.Dec. 435, 713 N.E.2d 1285, 1288 (1999). Since business owners and operators are not liable for failing to remove natural accumulations of water, owners and operators also have no duty to warn of such conditions. Walker v. Chicago Transit Authority, 92 Ill.App.3d 120, 123, 48 Ill.Dec. 115, 416 N.E.2d 10, 13 (1980).

Nevertheless, property owners and business operators may be liable for injuries resulting from an accumulation of ice, water, or snow if a plaintiff establishes that the means of ingress or egress was unsafe for any reason other than a natural accumulation of ice, water, or snow. Compare Branson, 196 Ill.App.3d at 1094, 143 Ill.Dec. 689, 554 N.E.2d at 629 (holding that since there was no evidence that the means of ingress and egress was unsafe for any reason other than a natural accumulation of water, there was no triable issue of fact), with Kittle v. Liss, 108 Ill. App.3d 922, 925-26, 64 Ill.Dec. 307, 439 N.E.2d 972, 974 (1982) (holding that although the plaintiff-business invitee slipped and fell on a natural accumulation of ice, there was a triable issue of fact as to whether the owner provided adequate lighting in accordance with his duty to provide a reasonably safe means of ingress or egress). Plaintiff's burden is satisfied if he establishes that a defendant failed to meet his duty to properly illuminate the premises or to repair or give adequate warning of other known, dangerous conditions. Richter v. Burton Investment Properties, Inc., 240 Ill.App.3d 998, 1002, 181 Ill.Dec. 780, 608 N.E.2d 1254, 1257 (1993). The burden is also satisfied if a plaintiff establishes that his injuries resulted from an artificial or unnatural accumulation of water, or from a natural condition aggravated by the owner or operator. Roberson, 251 Ill.App.3d at 528, 191 Ill.Dec. 119, 623 N.E.2d at 367; see, e.g., Bloom, 304 Ill.App.3d at 711, 237 Ill.Dec. 698, 710 N.E.2d at 123 (holding that liability may exist if a plaintiff establishes that the accumulation of ice, snow, or water is unnatural due to the design, construction, or maintenance of the building or premises). Moreover, Illinois cases have held a business liable for injuries resulting from tracked in water when the plaintiff specifically alleged that the materials used in the floors at issue were particularly slippery and dangerous when wet. Selby v. Danville...

To continue reading

Request your trial
25 cases
  • Beaumont v. Bank
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Illinois
    • April 5, 2011
    ...Transit Authority, 238 Ill.2d 215, 222, 345 Ill.Dec. 1, 938 N.E.2d 440, 445 (2010); Reed v. Galaxy Holdings, Inc., 394 Ill.App.3d 39, 43, 333 Ill.Dec. 213, 914 N.E.2d 632, 637–38 (1st Dist.2009). This includes “tracks or residue left by customers who have walked through natural accumulation......
  • Baez v. Target Corp.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Illinois
    • February 20, 2015
    ...of New York, Inc., 2011 IL App (1st) 092860, ¶ 14, 352 Ill.Dec. 188, 953 N.E.2d 427 ; Reed v. Galaxy Holdings, Inc., 394 Ill.App.3d 39, 42, 333 Ill.Dec. 213, 914 N.E.2d 632 (1st Dist.2009). To recover in a slip-and-fall case involving ice, snow or water, Plaintiff also must show “that the a......
  • Hougan v. Salon
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • November 18, 2013
    ...has a duty to provide a reasonably safe means of ingress to and egress from the business. Reed v. Galaxy Holdings, Inc., 394 Ill.App.3d 39, 42, 333 Ill.Dec. 213, 914 N.E.2d 632 (2009). ¶ 23 Plaintiffs argue that Ulta owed Susan a duty of care because, before and at the time of the accident,......
  • Rozowicz v. C3 Presents, LLC
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • December 18, 2017
    ...of land has a general duty to provide a reasonable means of egress from his property. Cf. Reed v. Galaxy Holdings, Inc. , 394 Ill. App. 3d 39, 42, 333 Ill.Dec. 213, 914 N.E.2d 632 (2009) ("property owners and business operators have a general duty to provide a reasonably safe means of ingre......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT