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Slipping on a French Fry and Daytona Beach Lawyers

Thu, Dec 01, 2011 at 2:47PM

     In a 2006 lawsuit, a woman and her husband sued after she slipped on a French fry at an Outback Steakhouse and injured herself.

     While slipping on a French fry almost seems like a comic routine, it’s no joke. And the rulings on the lawsuit provide an excellent opportunity for Daytona Beach lawyers to discuss several legal terms. An appeals court recently ruled in favor of the couple, by the way.

     The couple went to an Outback Steakhouse in Baton Rouge and sat at a booth in the bar area that hadn’t been cleaned. The woman went to the restroom and while she was gone a busboy cleaned the table, but swept food remnants onto the floor. One French fry landed in the cuff of the man’s pants. When she returned to the booth, she slipped on a French fry on the floor.

     The couple sued Florida-based Outback Steakhouse Inc. (or OSI), but the trial court ruled against them, because the restaurant did not have “constructive notice” of the French fry on the floor.  On appeal, the plaintiffs argued that the trial court erred in not recognizing a “spoliation or negligent impairment of a civil claim.”

     “Constructive notice” is found when a dangerous condition exists for a sufficient length of time that the property owner should know of its existence.  In this case, the restaurant management should have known there would be food remnants on the floor because their busboys were not using the proper bus tubs as required by company policy.

     “Spoliation or negligent impairment of a civil claim” is a person’s or entity’s failure to produce evidence that is within their possession or control. In this case, the trial court would not allow into evidence a statement by a waitress who testified that other customers had seen the French fry on the floor.

     Despite the appeals court’s reversal of the verdict, this case may not be over as it was remanded back to the trial court for further proceedings.

     How the case turns out probably won’t be known for a long time, but at least Daytona Beach lawyers have gotten a chance to explain two legal terms that might have left you scratching your head.

     The Daytona Beach lawyers of Seitz & Tresher are available to consult on personal injury cases as well as other areas of the law.

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