Cluttered aisles in a California retail store can be a major problem for the owner. I have been to some retail stores and noticed that merchandise tend to get picked up by customers and placed on the floor.  One such store is the Ross Dress for Less stores.  You go in there on a weekend and most of the merchandise has been moved around and put on the floor (the picture and poster department) by the customers.  This blog post explores the business owner's failure to inspect for potential hazards.  Lets take the following case example:

The plaintiff caught her foot on a white plastic clothes hanger while shopping at a local discount store; this caused her to fall onto a light colored floor.  The store owner testified that there were no regular sweeping logs or inspection schedules to look for debris on the floor at that time.  The company policy trained each employee with the sole responsibility of always inspecting the premises and sales area and to promptly pick up anything that might present a dangerous condition to customers.  The plaintiff, or injury party, won the slip and fall trial, and the losing party (the discount store) appealed the decision to the Louisiana Court of Appeal that agreed with the first court that the discount store had a "twofold duty to inspect and correct dangerous conditions that might present hazards to patrons." The courts found that the store's failure to conduct regular inspections of the sales floor did not meet this crucial level of care. This appellate decision was handed down in 1986.

So the duty of the business owner is real clear; and it is the basis or foundation of a good risk-management procedure and policy.  Where most retail store owners have instituted safety programs and the like, the emphasis as always been for customer safety which is based on maintenance, repair, and inspection of the premises.  The inspection aspect of this never-ending duty is by far the most important and goes to the heart of notice of the danger that caused the slip and fall
 
The above case example was inspired, in part, from earlier court cases that helped to formulate the so-called "Louisiana Rule" which helps to shift the burden of proof to the business owner requiring him or her to prove that his or her activities of inspection or maintenance of the premises are both adequate and reasonable.  These arguments help me in my San Diego slip and fall law practice.  In my demand packages for settlement I always focus on what the store or business owner could have done to make the danger known or abated (eliminated). 
Mark Blane
Founder of The Law Offices of Mark Blane, APC
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