Smith v. Tenet Health Sys. Spalding, Inc., No. A14A0366.

CourtUnited States Court of Appeals (Georgia)
Writing for the CourtDOYLE
Citation327 Ga.App. 878,761 S.E.2d 409
PartiesSMITH et al. v. TENET HEALTH SYSTEM SPALDING, INC. et al.
Docket NumberNo. A14A0366.
Decision Date07 July 2014

327 Ga.App. 878
761 S.E.2d 409

SMITH et al.
v.
TENET HEALTH SYSTEM SPALDING, INC. et al.

No. A14A0366.

Court of Appeals of Georgia.

July 7, 2014.


[761 S.E.2d 410]


John Hamilton Peavy Jr., for Appellant.

Brian K. Mathis, Kevin Patrick Race, Atlanta, Robert Stanley Huestis, for Appellee.


DOYLE, Presiding Judge.

In this slip and fall case, plaintiffs Bettie Sue Smith and David Smith, Sr., appeal from the grant of summary judgment to Hospital Housekeeping Systems, L.P., and Hospital Housekeeping Systems, Ltd., (L.P.) (collectively “HHS”) and Tenet Health System Spalding, Inc., d/b/a Spalding Regional Medical Center (“Spalding”). The plaintiffs contend that summary judgment was not warranted because genuine issues of material fact remain as to the defendants' liability. For the reasons that follow, we reverse.

Summary judgment is proper when there is no genuine issue of material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. A de novo standard of review applies to an appeal from a grant of summary judgment, and we view the evidence, and all reasonable conclusions and inferences drawn from it, in the light most favorable to the nonmovant.1

[761 S.E.2d 411]

So viewed, the record shows that Bettie Sue Smith was at Spalding to visit her daughter-in-law's grandmother, who was hospitalized with an illness. That day, at approximately 3:55 p.m., Miranda Fonfield, an employee of HHS, which provided cleaning services to Spalding, cleaned and restocked her janitorial cart at the end of her shift. Fonfield's cart was located in a public hallway outside a janitorial closet because the closet was too small to accommodate cleaning the cart inside. The hall floor is tiled, with no carpeting, and there was no “wet floor” warning sign posted. Fonfield's end-of-shift process included removing the mop water bucket, replacing the pads on “micro mops,” refilling liquid disinfectant containers, and wiping down her cart with a damp rag. Approximately ten minutes after Fonfield finished cleaning the cart and pushed it into the closet, Smith walked down the hallway and slipped and fell in the area where Fonfield had been cleaning her cart. As a result of the fall, Smith suffered a broken hip requiring surgery the next day.

Smith sued Spalding and HHS seeking special and general damages.2 Following discovery, the defendants filed motions for summary judgment, amending them after Smith's discovery responses, arguing that Smith failed to present sufficient evidence to create a genuine issue of material fact as to their liability. After a hearing, the trial court granted both motions for summary judgment, and this appeal followed.

1. The Plaintiffs contend that the trial court erred by granting summary judgment to HHS because there is sufficient evidence in the record to create a factual question as to the negligence of HHS's employee. We agree.

At the summary judgment stage, the trial court, as well as this Court on appeal, must view all of the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmovant, in this case, the Smiths. When addressing summary judgment motions, every court

must remain mindful of the jury's role in the process to resolve any and all conflicts in the evidence. It is the jury, not the court, which is the fact-finding body. [The jury] weighs the contradictory evidence and inferences, judges the credibility of witnesses, receives expert instructions, and draws the ultimate conclusion as to the facts. The very essence of its function is to select from among conflicting inferences and conclusions that which it considers most reasonable. The situation is best summed up by the language of Justice Bleckley speaking for the [C]ourt, in Brown v. Matthews3: “Truth is often dim, but is truth nevertheless. Frequently amongst the facts best proved is one which no witness has mentioned in his testimony, such fact being an inference from other facts.” From this perspective, it is preferable not to have a single trial judge stand in the shoes of the several men and women of various backgrounds who make up a jury and determine what inferences they may draw from the evidence.4

For this reason, at the summary judgment stage, courts are required to “construe the evidence most...

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13 practice notes
  • Howerton v. Harbin Clinic, LLC, No. A15A0141.
    • United States
    • Georgia Court of Appeals
    • 16 July 2015
    ...testimony about a material fact, it is for the jury, and not the court, to resolve that conflict. Smith v. Tenet Health System Spalding, 327 Ga.App. 878, 879(1), 761 S.E.2d 409 (2014).Viewed in the light most favorable to Howerton, as the non-movant, the record shows that Harbin Clinic, LLC......
  • Ga. Lottery Corp. v. Vasaya, A19A1625
    • United States
    • Georgia Court of Appeals
    • 31 October 2019
    ...party, who is given the benefit of all reasonable doubts and possible inferences." Smith v. Tenet Health System Spalding, Inc. , 327 Ga. App. 878, 879 (1), 761 S.E.2d 409 (2014) (citation and punctuation omitted). Viewed in the light most favorable to the GLC, the record shows that on Janua......
  • Patel v. Ga. Lottery Corp., A19A0031
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Georgia)
    • 25 June 2019
    ...party, who is given the benefit of all reasonable doubts and possible inferences." Smith v. Tenet HealthSystem Spalding, Inc. , 327 Ga. App. 878, 879 (1), 761 S.E.2d 409 (2014) (footnote and punctuation omitted). "And because summary judgment is a matter of law, we review the issue de novo.......
  • Fireman's Fund Ins. Co. v. Holder Constr. Grp., LLC, A21A1558
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Georgia)
    • 26 January 2022
    ...and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." (Citation and punctuation omitted.) Smith v. Tenet HealthSystem Spalding , 327 Ga. App. 878, 761 S.E.2d 409 (2014). "A defendant moving for summary judgment may prevail by showing the court that the documents, affidavits, depositio......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
13 cases
  • Howerton v. Harbin Clinic, LLC, No. A15A0141.
    • United States
    • Georgia Court of Appeals
    • 16 July 2015
    ...testimony about a material fact, it is for the jury, and not the court, to resolve that conflict. Smith v. Tenet Health System Spalding, 327 Ga.App. 878, 879(1), 761 S.E.2d 409 (2014).Viewed in the light most favorable to Howerton, as the non-movant, the record shows that Harbin Clinic, LLC......
  • Ga. Lottery Corp. v. Vasaya, A19A1625
    • United States
    • Georgia Court of Appeals
    • 31 October 2019
    ...party, who is given the benefit of all reasonable doubts and possible inferences." Smith v. Tenet Health System Spalding, Inc. , 327 Ga. App. 878, 879 (1), 761 S.E.2d 409 (2014) (citation and punctuation omitted). Viewed in the light most favorable to the GLC, the record shows that on Janua......
  • Patel v. Ga. Lottery Corp., A19A0031
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Georgia)
    • 25 June 2019
    ...party, who is given the benefit of all reasonable doubts and possible inferences." Smith v. Tenet HealthSystem Spalding, Inc. , 327 Ga. App. 878, 879 (1), 761 S.E.2d 409 (2014) (footnote and punctuation omitted). "And because summary judgment is a matter of law, we review the issue de novo.......
  • Fireman's Fund Ins. Co. v. Holder Constr. Grp., LLC, A21A1558
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Georgia)
    • 26 January 2022
    ...and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." (Citation and punctuation omitted.) Smith v. Tenet HealthSystem Spalding , 327 Ga. App. 878, 761 S.E.2d 409 (2014). "A defendant moving for summary judgment may prevail by showing the court that the documents, affidavits, depositio......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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