This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 07/19/2019 at 02:15:53 (UTC).

DIANE HUNLEY VS WAL-MART STORES INC ET AL

Case Summary

On 05/03/2018 a Personal Injury - Other Personal Injury case was filed by DIANE HUNLEY against WAL-MART STORES INC in the jurisdiction of Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    ****4990

  • Filing Date:

    05/03/2018

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Personal Injury - Other Personal Injury

  • Court:

    Los Angeles County Superior Courts

  • Courthouse:

    Stanley Mosk Courthouse

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

 

Party Details

Petitioner and Plaintiff

HUNLEY DIANE

Respondents and Defendants

DOES 1 TO 50 INCLUSIVE

WAL-MART STORES INC.

WAL-MART INC.

 

Court Documents

Other -

6/6/2018: Other -

Answer

6/6/2018: Answer

Notice of Deposit - Jury

4/29/2019: Notice of Deposit - Jury

Motion for Summary Judgment

7/12/2019: Motion for Summary Judgment

Notice of Lodging

7/12/2019: Notice of Lodging

Separate Statement

7/12/2019: Separate Statement

Declaration

7/12/2019: Declaration

Declaration

7/12/2019: Declaration

Proof of Personal Service

7/12/2019: Proof of Personal Service

Memorandum of Points & Authorities

7/12/2019: Memorandum of Points & Authorities

PLAINTIFFS DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL

5/9/2018: PLAINTIFFS DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL

Proof of Service of Summons and Complaint

5/11/2018: Proof of Service of Summons and Complaint

Proof of Service of Summons and Complaint

5/11/2018: Proof of Service of Summons and Complaint

CoverSheet

5/3/2018: CoverSheet

Civil Case Cover Sheet

5/3/2018: Civil Case Cover Sheet

Summons

5/3/2018: Summons

Complaint

5/3/2018: Complaint

5 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 07/12/2019
  • Memorandum of Points & Authorities; Filed by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (Defendant)

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  • 07/12/2019
  • Proof of Personal Service; Filed by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (Defendant)

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  • 07/12/2019
  • Separate Statement; Filed by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (Defendant)

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  • 07/12/2019
  • Declaration (DECLARATION OF SILVIA LUNA, ESQ. IN SUPPORT OF DEFENDANT WAL-MART STORES, INC.?S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT OR, IN THE ALTERNATIVE, SUMMARY ADJUDICATION); Filed by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (Defendant)

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  • 07/12/2019
  • Declaration (DECLARATION OF DAN HARMS IN SUPPORT OF DEFENDANT WAL-MART STORES, INC.?S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT OR, IN THE ALTERNATIVE, SUMMARY ADJUDICATION); Filed by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (Defendant)

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  • 07/12/2019
  • Motion for Summary Judgment; Filed by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (Defendant)

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  • 07/12/2019
  • Notice of Lodging (NOTICE OF LODGMENT OF EVIDENCE IN SUPPORT OF DEFENDANT WAL-MART STORES, INC.?S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT OR, IN THE ALTERNATIVE, SUMMARY ADJUDICATION); Filed by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (Defendant)

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  • 04/29/2019
  • Notice of Deposit - Jury; Filed by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (Defendant)

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  • 06/06/2018
  • Answer

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  • 06/06/2018
  • Demand for Jury Trial; Filed by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (Defendant)

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2 More Docket Entries
  • 05/11/2018
  • Proof-Service/Summons; Filed by Diane Hunley (Plaintiff)

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  • 05/11/2018
  • Proof-Service/Summons; Filed by Diane Hunley (Plaintiff)

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  • 05/11/2018
  • Proof of Service of Summons and Complaint

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  • 05/11/2018
  • Proof of Service of Summons and Complaint

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  • 05/09/2018
  • PLAINTIFFS DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL

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  • 05/09/2018
  • Demand for Jury Trial; Filed by Diane Hunley (Plaintiff)

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  • 05/03/2018
  • Civil Case Cover Sheet

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  • 05/03/2018
  • Complaint

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  • 05/03/2018
  • Complaint; Filed by Diane Hunley (Plaintiff)

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  • 05/03/2018
  • Summons; Filed by Diane Hunley (Plaintiff)

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: BC704990    Hearing Date: February 07, 2020    Dept: 32

Superior Court of California

County of Los Angeles

Spring Street Courthouse, Department 5

diane hunley ,

Plaintiff,

v.

walmart stores, inc., et al.,

Defendants.

Case No.: BC704990

Hearing Date: January 13, 2020

[TENTATIVE] order RE:

MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

Background

Plaintiff Diane Hunley (“Plaintiff”) filed this action against Defendant Walmart Stores, Inc. (“Defendant”), asserting causes of action for negligence and premises liability, after she slipped and fell in a puddle of water on the floor of the garden center. Now, Defendant moves for summary judgment, which Plaintiff opposes. The motion is granted.

LEGAL STANDARD

“[T]he party moving for summary judgment bears the burden of persuasion that there is no triable issue of material fact and that he is entitled to judgment as a matter of law[.]  There is a triable issue of material fact if, and only if, the evidence would allow a reasonable trier of fact to find the underlying fact in favor of the party opposing the motion in accordance with the applicable standard of proof.”  (Aguilar v. Atlantic Richfield Co. (2001) 25 Cal.4th 826, 850.)  “[T]he party moving for summary judgment bears an initial burden of production to make a prima facie showing of the nonexistence of any triable issue of material fact; if he carries his burden of production, he causes a shift, and the opposing party is then subjected to a burden of production of his own to make a prima facie showing of the existence of a triable issue of material fact.”  (Ibid.)  In ruling on the motion, “the court may not weigh the plaintiff's evidence or inferences against the defendant[’s] as though it were sitting as the trier of fact.”  (Id. at 856.)  However, the court “must . . . determine what any evidence or inference could show or imply to a reasonable trier of fact.”  (Ibid., emphasis original.)  

DISCUSSION

Defendant moves for summary judgment on Plaintiff’s complaint for negligence and premises liability. The elements of a cause of action for premises liability are the same as those for negligence: duty, breach, causation, and damages.  (Castellon v. U.S. Bancorp (2013) 220 Cal.App.4th 994, 998.)  Those who own, possess, or control property generally have a duty to exercise ordinary care in managing the property to avoid exposing others to an unreasonable risk of harm.  (Annocki

Defendant argues that the allegedly dangerous condition was open and obvious. “[I]f the danger is so obvious that a person could reasonably be expected to see it, the condition itself serves as a warning, and the landowner is under no further duty unless harm was foreseeable despite the obvious nature of the danger.” (Danieley v. Goldmine Ski Associates, Inc. (1990) 218 Cal.App.3d 111, 122, citing 6 Witkin, Summary of Cal. Law (9th ed.) Torts, § 930, p. 301.) Put another way, Defendant is “no[t] liable for injury resulting from an obvious danger or one that could have been observed had appellant exercised ordinary care . . . .” (Mula v. Meyer (1955) 132 Cal.App.2d 279, 287.)

Defendant relies on photos of the area where Plaintiff fell, which were taken shortly after her accident. There are warning signs on the doors leading to the garden center which state: “Caution: Watch for hoses and wet floors.” (Notice of Lodgment of Evidence in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment, Exh. C.) The photos also show that Defendant placed a cone at the entrance to the aisle at issue. (Ibid.) The cone states: “Caution Wet Floor.” Finally, the photos show that the puddle in which Plaintiff stepped is readily visible. (Ibid.) Indeed, the puddle is large, taking up most of the aisle, and it is clearly visible because the water contrasts with the light concrete underneath. (Ibid.)

Defendant proffers the deposition testimony of its employee, Robert S. Johnson (“Johnson”), who assisted Plaintiff after her fall. Johnson testified that when he went to assist Plaintiff after her fall, there were cones in the aisle where Plaintiff fell. (Notice of Lodgment of Evidence in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment, Exh. F, p. 21.)

Taken together, Defendant’s evidence is sufficient to show that the puddle on which Plaintiff slipped was open and obvious, such that Defendant is not liable for Plaintiff’s injuries. This evidence shifts the burden to Plaintiff to proffer sufficient evidence to create a triable issue.

Plaintiff relies on her own declaration in which she states: “[She] slipped and fell, in a large puddle of water [on] the concrete, clearly draining from the area where the plants had been watered.” (Declaration of Diane Hunley, p.1.) Plaintiff’s declaration is not sufficient because she does not state that she did not see the puddle prior to slipping due to obstructions. While Plaintiff claims that she did not see any of the warning signs, she does not state that her view of the puddle was obstructed. Whether Plaintiff could see the warning signs is not dispositive if the puddle itself was obvious. Likewise, Plaintiff cannot defeat Defendant’s motion simply by arguing that the jury should decide the question of whether the puddle on which Plaintiff slipped was open and obvious. (See Shepherd v. Jones (1982) 136 Cal.App.3d 1049, 1062.)

Finally, Plaintiff relies on the declaration of her attorney which states: “I attest this is a meritorious case with conflicting evidence of breach of duty by Defendant’s [sic]. There are numerous triable issues of fact.” Counsel is not a witness and cannot create a triable issue based on his own declaration.

At the original hearing on this motion, Plaintiff’s counsel requested a continuance to file a supplemental declaration from his client and lodge her deposition transcript. The Court reluctantly granted the continuance. Plaintiff did not lodge her deposition transcript. Plaintiff filed a supplemental declaration stating that she did not see the puddle of water because “[m]y attention was directed at a customer service employee of Walmart several aisles over as I walked, then fell.” (Supplemental Declaration of Plaintiff, at p.1.) This evidence is not sufficient to raise triable issues of material fact. “[P]ersons must use their eyes to protect themselves from such obvious dangers.” (Blodgett v. B.H. Dyas Co. (1935) 4 Cal.2d 511, 513.) Plaintiff’s evidence that she was distracted because she sought the assistance of an employee is not evidence to suggest that the puddle was not open and obvious. To the contrary, the evidence suggests that Plaintiff did not exercise “ordinary care,” as required. (See Mula v. Meyer, supra, 132 Cal.App.2d at 287.)

Plaintiff also states that she entered the aisle through the back of the store, and there were no warning signs or caution cones at that end. Regardless, Defendant has no duty to warn of an open and obvious danger. As discussed, the photographs of this incident demonstrate that the puddle is readily apparent, as it is large, consuming most of the aisle, and contrasts with the light concrete underneath. This is not unusual, given that the garden center is in an outdoor area and contains numerous plants that must be watered. Defendant is not liable for injury resulting from such an obvious danger that Plaintiff could have observed had she exercised ordinary care. (Ibid.)

CONCLUSION AND ORDER

Defendant’s motion for summary judgment is granted. Defendant shall provide notice and file proof of such with the Court.

DATED: February 8, 2020 ___________________________

Stephen I. Goorvitch

Judge of the Superior Court

Case Number: BC704990    Hearing Date: January 13, 2020    Dept: 5

Superior Court of California

County of Los Angeles

Spring Street Courthouse, Department 5

diane hunley ,

Plaintiff,

v.

walmart stores, inc., et al.,

Defendants.

Case No.: BC704990

Hearing Date: January 13, 2020

[TENTATIVE] order RE:

MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

Background

Plaintiff Diane Hunley (“Plaintiff”) filed this action against Defendant Walmart Stores, Inc. (“Defendant”), asserting causes of action for negligence and premises liability, after she slipped and fell in a puddle of water on the floor of the garden center. Now, Defendant moves for summary judgment, which Plaintiff opposes. The motion is granted.

LEGAL STANDARD

“[T]he party moving for summary judgment bears the burden of persuasion that there is no triable issue of material fact and that he is entitled to judgment as a matter of law[.]  There is a triable issue of material fact if, and only if, the evidence would allow a reasonable trier of fact to find the underlying fact in favor of the party opposing the motion in accordance with the applicable standard of proof.”  (Aguilar v. Atlantic Richfield Co. (2001) 25 Cal.4th 826, 850.)  “[T]he party moving for summary judgment bears an initial burden of production to make a prima facie showing of the nonexistence of any triable issue of material fact; if he carries his burden of production, he causes a shift, and the opposing party is then subjected to a burden of production of his own to make a prima facie showing of the existence of a triable issue of material fact.”  (Ibid.)  In ruling on the motion, “the court may not weigh the plaintiff's evidence or inferences against the defendant[’s] as though it were sitting as the trier of fact.”  (Id. at 856.)  However, the court “must . . . determine what any evidence or inference could show or imply to a reasonable trier of fact.”  (Ibid., emphasis original.)  

DISCUSSION

Defendant moves for summary judgment on Plaintiff’s complaint for negligence and premises liability. The elements of a cause of action for premises liability are the same as those for negligence: duty, breach, causation, and damages.  (Castellon v. U.S. Bancorp (2013) 220 Cal.App.4th 994, 998.)  Those who own, possess, or control property generally have a duty to exercise ordinary care in managing the property to avoid exposing others to an unreasonable risk of harm.  (Annocki

Defendant argues that the allegedly dangerous condition was open and obvious. “[I]f the danger is so obvious that a person could reasonably be expected to see it, the condition itself serves as a warning, and the landowner is under no further duty unless harm was foreseeable despite the obvious nature of the danger.” (Danieley v. Goldmine Ski Associates, Inc. (1990) 218 Cal.App.3d 111, 122, citing 6 Witkin, Summary of Cal. Law (9th ed.) Torts, § 930, p. 301.) Put another way, Defendant is “no[t] liable for injury resulting from an obvious danger or one that could have been observed had appellant exercised ordinary care . . . .” (Mula v. Meyer (1955) 132 Cal.App.2d 279, 287.)

Defendant relies on photos of the area where Plaintiff fell, which were taken shortly after her accident. There are warning signs on the doors leading to the garden center which state: “Caution: Watch for hoses and wet floors.” (Notice of Lodgment of Evidence in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment, Exh. C.) The photos also show that Defendant placed a cone at the entrance to the aisle at issue. (Ibid.) The cone states: “Caution Wet Floor.” Finally, the photos show that the puddle in which Plaintiff stepped is readily visible. (Ibid.) Indeed, the puddle is large, taking up most of the aisle, and it is clearly visible because the water contrasts with the light concrete underneath. (Ibid.)

Defendant proffers the deposition testimony of its employee, Robert S. Johnson (“Johnson”), who assisted Plaintiff after her fall. Johnson testified that when he went to assist Plaintiff after her fall, there were cones in the aisle where Plaintiff fell. (Notice of Lodgment of Evidence in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment, Exh. F, p. 21.)

Taken together, Defendant’s evidence is sufficient to show that the puddle on which Plaintiff slipped was open and obvious, such that Defendant is not liable for Plaintiff’s injuries. This evidence shifts the burden to Plaintiff to proffer sufficient evidence to create a triable issue.

Plaintiff relies on her own declaration in which she states: “[She] slipped and fell, in a large puddle of water [on] the concrete, clearly draining from the area where the plants had been watered.” (Declaration of Diane Hunley, p.1.) Plaintiff’s declaration is not sufficient because she does not state that she did not see the puddle prior to slipping. While Plaintiff claims that she did not see any of the warning signs, she does not state that her view of the puddle was obstructed. Whether Plaintiff could see the warning signs is not dispositive if the puddle itself was obvious. Likewise, Plaintiff cannot defeat Defendant’s motion simply by arguing that the jury should decide the question of whether the puddle on which Plaintiff slipped was open and obvious. (See Shepherd v. Jones (1982) 136 Cal.App.3d 1049, 1062.)

Finally, Plaintiff relies on the declaration of her attorney which states: “I attest this is a meritorious case with conflicting evidence of breach of duty by Defendant’s [sic]. There are numerous triable issues of fact.” Counsel is not a witness and cannot create a triable issue based on his own declaration.

CONCLUSION AND ORDER

Defendant’s motion for summary judgment is granted. Defendant shall provide notice and file proof of such with the Court.

DATED: January 13, 2020 ___________________________

Stephen I. Goorvitch

Judge of the Superior Court