Georgia Court of Appeals Holds that a “Checkup / Walkthrough” Procedure Does Not Necessitate a Finding of a Proper Inspection for Purposes of Dispositive Motion in Slip and Fall Cases – by Timothy Mitchell

In the recently decided Lomax v. Kroger Co., No. A18A1491, 2019 WL 761190 (Ga. Ct. App. Feb. 21, 2019), the Georgia Court of Appeals, noting that “a plaintiff in a slip and fall action need not show how long the hazard has been present unless the owner has demonstrated that it had a reasonable inspection program in place and that such program was actually carried out at the time of the incident,” reversed a grant of judgment notwithstanding the verdict in a slip and fall case.

Georgia law controlling the liability of landowners in slip and fall cases holds that, “an invitee must prove: (1) that the defendant [landlord] had actual or constructive knowledge of the hazard; and (2) that the plaintiff lacked knowledge of the hazard despite the exercise of ordinary care due to actions or conditions within the control of the owner/occupier.” Robinson v. Kroger Co., 268 Ga. 735, 748-749 (2) (B), 493 S.E.2d 403 (1997).

The Lomax court ruled that, even though Kroger had a daily “checkup / walkthrough” procedure in place (i.e. that employees were “trained to inspect floors and check for spills or other hazards”), a jury was allowed to determine that such procedures alone were not as a matter of law “a reasonable inspection program” and that Kroger therefore could have “constructive knowledge” of the alleged hazard.

This highlights the important of creating, maintaining, and recording proper inspection procedures to avoid liability in similar cases. If you have any questions about this important premises liability development, please contact Timothy Mitchell at (678) 684-2133 or tmitchell@cmlawfirm.com