Rios v. Walmart Inc., 102418 FED9, 16-16875

Docket Nº:16-16875, 17-15476
Party Name:ABBY RIOS, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. WALMART INC., Defendant-Appellee.
Judge Panel:Before: THOMAS, Chief Judge, and KLEINFELD and GRABER, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:October 24, 2018
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
 
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ABBY RIOS, Plaintiff-Appellant,

v.

WALMART INC., Defendant-Appellee.

Nos. 16-16875, 17-15476

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

October 24, 2018

NOT FOR PUBLICATION

Submitted October 17, 2018, as to No. 16-16875

Submitted October 17, 2018, as to No. 17-15476 [**] San Francisco, California

Appeals from the United States District Court for the District of Nevada D.C. No. 2:11-cv-01592-KJD-GWF Kent J. Dawson, District Judge, Presiding Argued and

Before: THOMAS, Chief Judge, and KLEINFELD and GRABER, Circuit Judges.

MEMORANDUM [*]

In this slip-and-fall case, Plaintiff Abby Rios appeals the judgment for Defendant Wal-Mart on her negligence claim, which the district court entered after overturning the jury's verdict for Plaintiff. Reviewing de novo, Wilks v. Reyes, 5 F.3d 412, 415 (9th Cir. 1993) (articulating the standard for general verdicts); Affordable Hous. Dev. Corp. v. City of Fresno, 433 F.3d 1182, 1193 (9th Cir. 2006) (articulating the standard for special verdicts), we reverse and remand with instructions to reinstate the verdict in Plaintiff's favor.

The district court erred by holding that the jury's answers to the first two questions on the verdict form conflicted with each other. Whether the jury returned a general verdict or a special verdict, the district court's task was to determine "not whether the verdict necessarily makes sense under any reading, but whether it can be read in light of the evidence to make sense." White v. Ford Motor Co., 312 F.3d 998, 1005 (9th Cir. 2002) (emphases added); see also Floyd v. Laws, 929 F.2d 1390, 1396 (9th Cir. 1991) (holding that the court has a duty under the Seventh Amendment to harmonize the jury's answers if possible). Under one reasonable view of the evidence, Defendant's maintenance employee could have prevented Plaintiff's fall had he returned as soon as possible to clean the aisle that he skipped on his route through the store-the aisle where Plaintiff fell. The entrance to the aisle was crowded with customers when he first passed it, but quickly cleared up.

Thus, even though the spill had been on the floor for only two minutes and...

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