from the District Court of the Fourth Judicial District of
the State of Idaho, Ada County. Honorable Jason D. Scott,
district court's grant of summary judgment is
& Swartz, PLLC, Boise, for appellant. Eric B. Swartz
Troxell Ennis & Hawley, LLP, Boise, for respondents.
Mindy M. Muller argued.
a premises liability case concerning whether a retailer is
negligent for failing to warn a customer about potential
spills. The case began when Michael Johnson suffered injuries
after he slipped and fell on a liquid while walking in the
housewares department of a Wal-Mart store. Johnson knew
neither the source of the substance, nor how long it had been
on the floor. Additionally, none of Wal-Mart's
surveillance cameras captured the initial spill or
Johnson's fall. Johnson filed a complaint alleging
Wal-Mart, which has issued an internal statement to its
employees that spills are largely responsible for
slip/trip/fall accidents in its stores, was negligent for
failing to warn him of the potential for spills. Johnson
claims that the store's business practice of allowing
patrons to carry liquids throughout the store should have put
Wal-Mart on notice that spills were foreseeable anywhere.
Wal-Mart filed a motion for summary judgment based on its
lack of actual or constructive notice of the spill. The
district court granted summary judgment in favor of Wal-Mart.
We now affirm.
30, 2015, Michael Johnson slipped on a liquid while walking
in Wal-Mart Store 2508 on Overland Road in Boise. The aisle
where Johnson slipped was in the housewares department near a
display of trash cans. Johnson did not know the liquid's
origin or how long it had been on the aisle floor.
Wal-Mart's surveillance cameras did not capture either
the spill or Johnson's slip.
practice permitted customers to carry liquids throughout the
store-whether brought from outside or purchased in the
store-without restriction. Wal-Mart did not warn its
customers, including Johnson, of the danger they might
encounter with spilled liquids while shopping. As a large
retailer, Wal-Mart has institutional knowledge that spills
occur and that those spills can lead to slip-and-fall
accidents. Wal-Mart issued an internal message to employees
acknowledging this, which stated, "Spills are largely
responsible for slip/trip/fall accidents in the store.
Slip/trip/fall accidents are included in the Big 3 accident
focus and require additional focus to reduce these accident
claims." However, Wal-Mart had no record of this
particular spill and no record of any prior spills or
accidents on the aisle where Johnson fell.
filed a complaint against Wal-Mart, alleging negligence and
premises liability for failure to warn and for failure to
keep the store in a safe condition. After engaging in
discovery, Wal-Mart filed a motion for summary judgment which
was granted. Johnson timely appealed.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Court reviews a grant of summary judgment under the same
standard of review the district court originally applied in
its ruling. Conner v. Hodges, 157 Idaho 19, 23, 333
P.3d 130, 134 (2014) (citing Arregui v.
Gallegos-Main, 153 Idaho 801, 804, 291 P.3d 1000, 1003
(2012)). Summary judgment is proper "if the movant shows
that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and
the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law."
I.R.C.P. 56(a). "When considering whether the evidence
in the record shows that there is no genuine issue of
material fact, the trial court must liberally construe the
facts, and draw all reasonable inferences, in favor of the
nonmoving party." Liberty Bankers Life Ins. Co. v.
Witherspoon, Kelley, Davenport & Toole, P.S., 159
Idaho 679, 685, 365 P.3d 1033, 1039 (2016). The moving party
has the burden of establishing there is no genuine issue of
material fact. Wattenbarger v. A.G. Edwards & Sons,
Inc., 150 Idaho 308, 317, 246 P.3d 961, 970 (2010).
the moving party has demonstrated the absence of a question
of material fact, the burden shifts to the nonmoving party to
demonstrate an issue of material fact that will preclude
summary judgment." Id. (citations omitted). The
nonmoving party must present evidence contradicting that
submitted by the movant, and which demonstrates a question of
material fact. Kiebert v. Goss, 144 Idaho 225, 228,
159 P.3d 862, 865 (2007). However, "[a] mere scintilla
of evidence or only slight doubt as to the facts is not
sufficient to create a genuine issue of material fact for the
purposes of summary judgment." Wright v. Ada
Cnty., 160 Idaho 491, 495, 376 P.3d 58, 62 (2016)
(citing Finholt v. Cresto, 143 Idaho 894, 897, 155
P.3d 695, 698 (2007)).