United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
F. DENNIS SAYLOR, IV, District Judge.
This is an action in negligence arising out of a slip-and-fall incident. Jurisdiction is based on diversity of citizenship.
On June 8, 2010, plaintiff Santa Lidia Esquivel slipped and fell on a pool of liquid in a Target store in Somerville, Massachusetts, operated by defendant Target Corporation. She now brings suit, alleging that her slip and fall was caused by defendant's negligent failure to clean up the liquid.
Defendant has moved for summary judgment, contending that it did not breach its duty of care towards plaintiff. For the following reasons, the motion will be granted.
The following facts are undisputed.
A. Factual Background
Santa Lidia Esquivel is a Massachusetts citizen residing in Malden, Massachusetts. (Notice of Removal ¶6(b)). Target Corporation is a Minnesota corporation with a principal place of business in Minneapolis, Minnesota. ( Id. ¶ 6(a)). Target owns and operates the Target store located at 180 Somerville Avenue in Somerville, Massachusetts. (Pl. SMF ¶ 5).
On June 8, 2010, Esquivel went to the Somerville Target store to purchase sheets. ( Id. ¶ 6). She went to the rear left corner of the store where sheets were sold. (Def. SMF ¶¶ 7, 26). In that area of the store, there was an emergency exit and a locked door to the store's electric room. Id. ¶ 28). There were no beverages for sale in that area of the store. ( Id. ¶ 27).
When stepping forward to get the sheets she wanted to purchase, Esquivel slipped in a pool of liquid and fell. ( Id. ¶¶ 8, 12). Both her feet slipped, and her blouse and the right side of her pants became wet. ( Id. ¶¶ 9, 11; Pl. SMF ¶ 29). Although Esquivel did not see the liquid before she fell, she saw it afterwards, describing it as "quite a lot of water" about the size of an automobile tire. (Pl. SMF ¶ 24; Def. SMF ¶¶ 10, 12). A Target incident report described the aisle as having "plenty of water on the floor." (Pl. SMF ¶ 28). The liquid looked clear, and the edge of the pool was approximately a foot from the shelf holding the sheets. (Def. SMF ¶¶ 12, 15). There was no investigation into what the liquid was before it was cleaned up. (Andrade Dep. at 55). Esquivel did not know where the liquid came from or how long it had been there. ( Id. ¶¶ 13, 14).
As a result of her fall, Esquivel tore her rotator cuff. (Pl. SMF ¶ 8). She underwent surgery to repair the tear. ( Id. ¶ 9). She continues to suffer chronic pain in her shoulder and the injury prevented her from working for four months. ( Id. ¶¶ 10, 12). She also contends that her injuries prevent her from being able to dance. ( Id. ¶ 14).
On June 8, 2010, twenty-three employees were working at the Somerville Target store. (Pl. SMF ¶ 17). Sixteen or seventeen of those employees were assigned to handle various areas of the store. ( Id. ¶ 16). The Somerville Target store is one of the smallest Target stores in the area. (Andrade Dep. at 28).
Target employees are trained to walk their departments and adjacent areas to monitor the cleanliness and neatness of the store. (Pl. SMF ¶ 40). At her deposition, Andrade testified that employees are supposed to monitor the store "[h]our by hour, minute through minute as you walk through the store." (Andrade Dep. at 20). If an employee finds a spill in an aisle, he or she is responsible for cleaning it up. ( Id. ¶ 38).
No Target employee had been in the area where Esquivel fell for approximately 30 minutes. (Andrade Dep. at 59). At her deposition, Andrade was asked about that time period:
Q: Okay. Now, can you read me what you wrote in your incident report on this line (indicating)?
A: "Team member in this area within thirty minutes prior to the incident? No."
Q: That's not minute by minute, right?
Q: And the team member, it might have been more than thirty minutes, correct?
A: To the point of the aisle that was in question. It's about twenty aisles to each department.
Q: Okay, and could it have been more than an hour and a half?
Q: Could it have been more than an hour?
Q: But no one was in that aisle for at least thirty minutes based on this ...