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Errico v. J.C. Penney Corp., Inc.

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

December 6, 2017

TERESA ERRICO, Plaintiff,
v.
J.C. PENNEY CORP., INC., Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          F. Dennis Saylor, IV, United States District Judge

         This is a negligence case seeking recovery for personal injury. Plaintiff Teresa Errico alleges that she tripped and fell on a negligently maintained rug in a store operated by defendant J.C. Penney Corp., Inc. J.C. Penney has moved for summary judgment in its favor. For the reasons described below, that motion will be granted.

         I. Background

         A. Factual Background

         The following facts are either undisputed or set forth in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.

         Teresa Errico is a resident of Massachusetts. (Compl. ¶ 1 (stating plaintiff lives in Woburn); Def. SMF Ex. E (stating plaintiff's home address is in Billerica); Def. SMF Ex. I (stating that plaintiff's address is in Burlington)). J.C. Penney is a Texas corporation with a principal place of business in Texas. (Compl. ¶ 2). J.C. Penney operates a store in Natick, Massachusetts, as part of the Natick Collection. (See Id. ¶ 4; Def. SMF ¶ 4).

         On June 8, 2015, Errico and her daughter, Teresa Baumann, came through an exterior entrance to the J.C. Penney store in Natick. (Compl. ¶¶ 4-5; Def. SMF ¶ 4, Ex. E at Answer 12, 14). Baumann entered the store “steps” ahead of her mother. (Def. SMF ¶ 6, Ex. F at 23-24, Ex. G). Errico tripped and fell as she was entering the store, injuring herself. She alleges that she tripped on the rug by the door, which was allegedly “curled up” or “lifted up.” (Compl. ¶ 5; Def. SMF ¶ 4, Ex. E at Answer 15).

         Baumann testified that she was not looking at the rug when she walked in, and did not notice whether it was lifted or not before the incident. (Def. SMF ¶ 9, Ex. F at 31-32). After her mother fell, Baumann saw that the rug had been lifted. (Def. SMF ¶ 10, Ex. F at 30, 34-37). Baumann at one point testified that “the girl from J.C. Penney” came and flattened it, but later said “I think they came over to look at the rug. I don't know if they fixed it. . . . I'm trying to think. I would say-probably I shouldn't say that I seen somebody actually doing that. I don't know.” (Def. SMF ¶ 10, Ex. F at 33, 44).

         Errico testified that she never noticed the rug either before or after the fall. (Def. SMF ¶ 13, Ex. H at 80-81). When asked if she had any evidence as to what caused her fall, she stated:

A. The rug because it caught my foot.
Q. And did it catch the front of your foot or the heel of your foot?
A. The whole foot.

(Def. SMF Ex. H at 80-81).

         Photographs of the area were taken following the fall and later attached to an incident report prepared by J.C. Penney staff. Those photographs show part of a flat mat, slightly out of alignment, leading from ...


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