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Vanchure v. Wegmans Food Markets, Inc.

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

May 1, 2014

BRENDA VANCHURE and DANIEL VANCHURE, her husband, Plaintiffs,


A. RICHARD CAPUTO, District Judge.

Presently before the Court is the Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 17) filed by Defendant Wegmans Food Markets, Inc. ("Wegmans"). The instant action relates to injuries sustained by Brenda Vanchure ("Mrs. Vanchure") following a slip-and-fall at a Wegmans retail grocery store in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. Wegmans contends summary judgment in its favor is warranted because the evidence fails to establish that it had notice of the hazardous condition that caused Mrs. Vanchure to fall or that it acted unreasonably in responding to that condition. Because the evidence when viewed in the light most favorable to Plaintiffs would allow a reasonable jury to conclude that Wegmans had actual notice of the liquid on the floor prior to Mrs. Vanchure's fall and it failed to react reasonably in response thereto, the motion for summary judgment will be denied.

I. Background

A. Relevant Factual Background

On June 11, 2011, Mrs. Vanchure and her husband, Daniel Vanchure ("Mr. Vanchure") (collectively, "Plaintiffs"), went to the Wegmans retail grocery store in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. ( Compl., ΒΆΒΆ 4, 6; Vanchure Dep., 78:8-17.) They arrived at the store at approximately 5:00 or 6:00 in the evening. ( Vanchure Dep., 78:5-7.) Mrs. Vanchure went into the store while Mr. Vanchure waited in their car. ( Id. at 75:14-17.) The store was extremely busy that day. ( Id. at 78:25.)

Mrs. Vanchure ran into the store for toilet paper, shampoo, and soap. ( Id. at 79:16-18.) Mrs. Vanchure did not use a wheeled cart or hand cart. ( Id. at 80:2-4.) Rather, she carried the toilet paper like it was a tray with the soap and shampoo resting on top of the pack of toilet paper. ( Id. at 81:23-82:11.)

After Mrs. Vanchure picked up those items and finished her shopping, she headed towards the registers which are located near the front of the store. ( Id. at 80:18-21, 81:12, 85:3-8.) The registers were on her right side as she approached the front of the store. ( Id. at 85:25.) On her left was the pharmacy and the front-end stand for the front-end supervisor. ( Id. at 86:6-11.)

When Mrs. Vanchure was near the front-end supervisor stand, she fell. ( Id. at 85:25-85:2.) Prior to falling, Mrs. Vanchure did not see what caused her to fall, and she did not see any items spill or break before falling. ( Id. at 82:12-17, 93:21-23.)

After the fall, Mrs. Vanchure was covered with a sticky substance on both of her hands, her right pant leg, and her right knee. ( Id. at 83:24-84:24.) Before she fell, Mrs. Vanchure did not see any employees cleaning up the substance she slipped on. ( Id. at 87:8-14.) Mrs. Vanchure also did not see any cones or wet floor signs, nor did she see a mop or bucket at the spot where she fell. ( Id. at 87:15-19.) Mrs. Vanchure was unaware how long the substance was on the floor prior to her fall. ( Id. at 88:7-9.)

While Mrs. Vanchure was on the floor following the fall, she looked ahead and saw an employee mopping the floor. ( Id. at 87:4-7.) The employee was standing in the direction Mrs. Vanchure was walking at the time she fell. ( Id. at 93:12-20.) Next to the employee was a yellow cone indicating "wet floor." ( Id. at 87:22-88:4.) Mrs. Vanchure did not see the employee before she fell because customers were surrounding that area. ( Id. at 93:18-20.) She was only able to see the employee after she fell once the crowd of people near the registers scattered. ( Id. at 93:8-11.) It is not clear from the record whether the employee was cleaning up the same spill which caused Mrs. Vanchure to fall or if it was a different spill.

After she fell, the front-end supervisor came over to Mrs. Vanchure very quickly. ( Vanchure Dep., 86:14-15.) Mrs Vanchure testified:

He was the first one to come towards me. And I don't know what the people did. I was so shocked and worked up that I couldn't believe what happened.
He came to me, and he picked me up, and he said, We had a soda explosion, a soda explosion.

( Id. at 82:21-83:1.) After helping Mrs. Vanchure off the floor and indicating that there had been a "soda explosion, " the front-end supervisor asked if she wanted an ambulance, which she declined. ( Id. at 95:9-10.) The supervisor then carried her belongings to Customer Service. ( Id. at 95:12-15, 96:8-16.) As they walked to Customer Service, Mrs. Vanchure almost fell again, but the front-end supervisor grabbed her and prevented her from falling. ( Id. at 94:18-23.) The front-end supervisor commented that it must have been her shoes that almost caused the fall. ( Id. ) Beside these discussions, Mrs. Vanchure could not recall having any other ...

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