A Closer Look at the Target vs. Kaufer Slip & Fall Case

Lazaro Kaufer was shopping at Target when he slipped on some liquid laundry detergent on the floor and faced costly medical bills as a result. The testimony at trial showed that an unidentified individual was walking in front of Mr. Kaufer and carrying a bottle of leaking laundry detergent that Mr. Kaufer slipped on.

Mr. Kaufer and his wife, Katia sued Target for negligence. The jury discovered that Target was partially liable for Mr. Kaufer’s fall and awarded him $250,000 in damages and his wife $30,000 for loss of of consortium.

Mr. Kaufer Made a Case for Negligence Under the Theory of Negligent Operation

The trial court denied Target’s post-trial motions and Target appealed the final judgment. According to Target, Mr. Kaufer did not have a case for negligence under the theory of negligent operation. Mr. Kaufer responded by arguing that the the negligent mode of operation was Target’s corporate policy of having a clear, very high gloss wet-look finish on its store floors.

He explained that the store’s floor policy caused the bright overhead lights to reflect off the tile and create a dangerous condition by causing spills of clear and translucent liquids to be unpredictable. Mr. Kaufer’s claim is governed by section 768.0710 Florida Statutes (2009). However, the question is whether Target’s uniform design of bright stores with high-gloss floors created a negligent condition which led to Mr. Kaufer’s slip and fall. Was the presence of recently spilled laundry detergent the result of the mode of operation selected by Target?

Target’s Alleged Negligent Mode of Operation Did Not Cause the Spilling of Detergent

The conclusion of Target vs. Kaufer was that Target’s alleged negligent mode of operation did not cause the unknown patron to spill detergent. The retailer’s alleged mode of operation was waxing its floors nightly and maintaining a store with bright lights. Laundry detergent on the floor was not a particular mode of operation Target chose. Therefore, Mr. Kaufer did not satisfy the elements of a claim for negligent mode of operation and the court made a mistake in denying Target’s motion for directed verdict.

Elements of a Slip and Fall Case

Contrary to popular belief, an individual cannot automatically sue just because they slipped and fell on someone else’s property. In order to bring about a valid slip and fall case, they must prove the following four elements:

  • The Defendant’s Duty: The defendant owned or operated the premises.
  • Notice: The defendant was aware or should have been aware of the condition that may have harmed the public.
  • Dangerous Condition: The harmful condition was not considered a “minor” issue.
  • Damages: The plaintiff sustained injuries because of a dangerous condition.

 

Contact Stein Law for a Free Case Consultation

If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident, you may be able to pursue compensation from the property owner or the party responsible for the property’s maintenance. Call our experienced Miami slip and fall accident lawyers today at 877-783-4652 for a free case consultation.

Brandon Stein

Chief Executive Officer

Brandon Stein, the owner and founder of SteinLaw, is a Florida-based trial attorney who focuses on personal injury cases such as wrongful death, car accident, slip and fall, and a variety of other civil litigation areas. Being a former associate at a prominent Florida Defense Law Firm, Brandon Stein understands the strategy and tactics...[READ BIO]