Pettit Kohn Attorneys Prevail in California Appellate Court Decision

Pettit Kohn Ingrassia Lutz & Dolin attorneys Jennifer Lutz, Andrew Smith, and Brian Suba successfully defended one of the nation’s largest big box retailers in a recent Court of Appeals decision affirming summary judgment granted earlier this year.

Plaintiff alleged that she sustained significant personal injury at Defendant’s store after slipping on a warm coffee spill.  Video evidence confirmed that Defendant’s employee conducted an inspection of the area seven minutes prior to the accident finding that the area was free and clear of any liquid, debris, or substance that could have caused any harm to a patron. Plaintiff sued Defendant under theories of negligence and premises liability claiming damages well into the mid six-figures.

Pettit Kohn brought a motion for summary judgment on Defendant’s behalf, seeking to dismiss Plaintiff’s entire claim based on the grounds that Defendant lacked the sufficient notice required to charge Defendant with negligence.  Plaintiff opposed the motion by retaining an expert to present evidence and present evidence that (1) the initial inspection was inadequate; (2) there was a question of fact as to whether the associate could feel the temperature of the spill; (3) Defendant’s inspection policies were inadequate; and (4) the vinyl floors at Defendant’s stores were inherently dangerous when wet.  Pettit Kohn presented well-reasoned objections to Plaintiff’s speculative theories and the testimony of Plaintiff’s safety expert.  The trial court agreed sustaining Defendant’s objections in full and granted summary judgment in favor of Defendant.  Plaintiff’s entire case was dismissed.

Plaintiff appealed the trial court’s ruling to the Second Appellate District (Division Four) for the State of California, which reviewed the case de novo.  After meticulous briefing by the parties, the Court of Appeal sided with Defendant, affirming summary judgment on all issues finding that Defendant lacked notice of the alleged condition and rejecting Plaintiff’s expert’s insufficient evidence that storeowners were required to provide slip resistant flooring throughout its stores.

About Pettit Kohn Ingrassia Lutz & Dolin

Pettit Kohn Ingrassia Lutz & Dolin PC is a leading AV-rated, full-service trial firm with expertise in litigating and resolving civil matters in both state and federal courts.  The firm represents clients in the areas of Appellate, Business Litigation, Civil & Trial Litigation, Community Association Litigation, Employment & Labor, Personal Injury, Product Liability, Professional Liability, Real Estate Litigation, Restaurant & Hospitality, Retail, Transactional & Business Services, and Transportation.  Clients include large and mid-sized corporations, privately held businesses, institutions, and individuals. 

Jennifer N. Lutz is a founding shareholder and co-chair of Pettit Kohn Ingrassia Lutz & Dolin’s Employment and Labor group and a member of the firm’s Appellate practice group.  Ms. Lutz successfully represents California employers involving issues of discrimination, wrongful termination, harassment, defamation, and both individual and class action wage and hour claims.  She is a seasoned litigator with experience practicing at both the trial and appellate levels.  Ms. Lutz also serves as an employment law instructor for the UC San Diego extension and is a speaker and author on issues such as wage and hour law, employee privacy, and leaves of absence.  She was recently recognized by Super Lawyers® as one of the Top 25 Women Lawyers in San Diego.

Andrew O. Smith is a shareholder in the firm’s Los Angeles office.  He represents a wide range of businesses and entities in the areas of commercial, construction, and product liability matters.  He has extensive trial and litigation experience and successfully manages complex cases while providing effective and cost-sensitive results for his clients.

Brian P. Suba, an associate in the Los Angeles office, has extensive litigation experience in representing clients in transportation, employment, catastrophic injury, and wrongful death litigation.  He has been successful in obtaining favorable results for his clients through dispositive motions, mediations, and jury trials while implementing cost-effective strategies for resolution.