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Do you need a flooring expert for your plaintiff’s slip and fall case?

April 27th, 2020 by admin

Contact Reams Law if you were injured after a slip and fall at a business, restaurant, or public place. Reams Law / (405) 285-6878.

Can your plaintiff’s slip and fall case survive summary judgment without a flooring expert? The hypothetical: Plaintiff visits a retail store, slips on an open and unobstructed floor, without any water, ice, ball bearings, bananas or other foreign objects, and injures himself from the resulting fall.

“Why did you fall?” he’s asked during a deposition.

“The floor was too slippery.”

And that’s it. No other theory of liability. Which begs to question whether an expert will be needed to offer an opinion about the surface friction of the floor, possibly supporting a theory that the property owner selected an unreasonably dangerous type of flooring material.

In general, “[e]xpert testimony is required where the fact in issue is not within the realm of ordinary experience of mankind.” Strubhart v. Perry Memorial Hospital Trust Authority, 1995 OK 10, 903 P.2d 263, 274; 23 O.S. § 2702.“[M]atters of slip resistance and surface friction are ‘beyond the understanding and experience of the average lay citizen.’” Rosenfeld v. Oceania Cruises, Inc., 654 F.3d 1190 (11th Cir. 2011), also citing Santos v. Posadas De Puerto Rico Assocs., Inc., 452 F.3d 59 (1st Cir. 2006) (approving the admission of expert testimony on the grounds that it was crucial to the plaintiff’s theory of the case).

Although holdings of the 11th and 1st Circuit courts may not be binding authority in your particular jurisdiction, such reasoning could be cause for pause. Your case may be in a Daubert or Frye jurisdiction (11th Circuit is a Daubert state), which can significantly impact an attorney’s conclusions on this issue. The most profound factor is certainly the individual judge on your case. Every case is different, and there are likely cases where a flooring expert is not helpful or necessary. In any event, whereas the plaintiff is likely to have the burden to identify the dangerous condition of a floor, and he has no expert to offer opinions about whether the floor was too “slippery,” his attorney may wise to reconsider.

If you were injured after a fall at retail store, restaurant or business, contact Reams Law to know your rights. Reams Law (405) 285-6878.

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