PETER J. PATRICOLA, ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATE OF LANITIA PATRICOLA APPELLANT
IMPERIAL PALACE OF MISSISSIPPI, LLC D/B/A IMPERIAL PALACE CASINO, RESORT & SPA APPELLEE
OF JUDGMENT: 06/24/2016
COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, SECOND JUDICIAL DISTRICT TRIAL JUDGE:
HON. LAWRENCE PAUL BOURGEOIS JR.
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: CATHERINE H. JACOBS.
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: PATRICK R. BUCHANAN.
IRVING, P.J., FAIR AND GREENLEE, JJ.
Lanitia Patricola slipped and fell on a small puddle in the
lobby of the Imperial Palace Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi.
Patricola alleged that the puddle was created by condensation
dripping from an air conditioning vent overhead; she
testified that the ceiling around it was stained and that
there were drops of water still hanging from the vent
immediately after her fall. The trial court granted summary
judgment against her based on its conclusions that
Patricola had failed to show condensation created
the puddle or that Imperial Palace had notice of the
puddle's existence. But, on summary judgment, Patricola
must be given the benefit of every inference that can
reasonably be drawn from the evidence. After our de novo
review of the record, we disagree with the circuit court on
both points. We reverse the grant of summary judgment and
remand the case for trial.
The record evidence consists of the depositions of Patricola,
her husband, two employees of Imperial Palace, an incident
report created the day of the accident, and several
photographs of the vent in question taken by Patricola and
her husband several weeks after her fall.
Patricola and her husband essentially testified to the same
things - that, on September 14, 2007, they ate breakfast at
the casino. As they were leaving, Patricola slipped on a
small puddle of water. The puddle was located at the junction
between the casino itself, which was a barge, and the
land-based entrance. At the junction, the floor transitioned
from carpet to marble tile; the puddle was on the marble.
Patricola slipped and fell as she was stepping from the
carpet to the tile.
Above the puddle was a long, narrow vent,  which at the time
was carrying cold air from the air conditioning system. The
vent had visible condensation on it, and the ceiling around
the vent was stained by water damage. The Patricolas admitted
that they did not actually see drops of water falling from
the vent onto the floor. Both testified that they returned to
the lobby several weeks later and photographed the vent,
where they again found visible condensation. Patricola's
husband testified that he also saw water on the floor on that
Employees of the Imperial Palace admitted that condensation
sometimes formed on the vents in the lobby, though they had
no specific recollection of the particular vent in question.
One employee admitted that condensation formed on the vents
"every now and then" and that he cleaned it from
the floor and vents, apparently routinely. He had a specific
tool he used for cleaning condensation from the vents, which
were about twelve feet above the floor. The employee added
that cleaning condensation from the floor alone would not fix
the problem, as it would continue to drip from the vents if
it was not removed. Another employee admitted that water
condensed on the air vents in the lobby when outdoor
temperatures and humidity were high, because of the influx of
air from outside, though he denied that it was a regular
An incident report prepared by Imperial Palace employees on
the day of Patricola's fall stated that one of the
employees "observed a small amount of condensation
leaking from the ceiling onto the carpet."
Turning to the law of premises liability, there is no dispute
that Patricola was a business invitee. See Grammar v.
Dollar, 911 So.2d 619, 624 (¶12) (Miss. Ct. App.
2005) (defining business invitee as "someone who enters
onto another's premises at the invitation of the owner
for the purpose of benefitting both parties"). The owner
of a business is not required to insure against all injuries,
even for an invitee; instead, he "owes a duty to an
invitee to exercise reasonable or ordinary care to keep the
premises in a reasonably safe condition or [to] warn of
dangerous conditions not readily apparent, which the owner or
occupant knows of, or should know of, in the exercise of
reasonable care." Robinson v. Ratliff, 757
So.2d 1098, 1101-02 (¶12) (Miss. Ct. App. 2000). The
owner has no duty to warn of a defect or danger that is as