United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Aberdeen Division
SHARION AYCOCK UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Turner originally filed her Complaint  against Belk, Inc.
in the Circuit Court of Lowndes County on March 6, 2018. In
her Complaint, the Plaintiff asserts negligence and premises
liability claims arising from a slip and fall on October 24,
2015. The Defendant removed the action to this Court on March
14, 2018. Now before the Court is the Defendant's Motion
for Summary Judgment . The issues are fully briefed and
ripe for review.
Plaintiff was shopping at Belk in Columbus, Mississippi on
the afternoon of October 24, 2015. While walking to the
men's department to purchase a shirt for her husband, the
Plaintiff slipped and fell on a 5x7 cardstock sign. In her
deposition, the Plaintiff described the sign as one that
would normally hang on a display to advertise a sale. The
Plaintiff also stated in her deposition that she did not see
the sign on the floor before she fell, as the color of the
sign blended in with the color of the tile floor. Alleging
physical and mental injuries, the Plaintiff asserts that the
Defendant negligently maintained their store property and
failed to provide her a safe shopping environment.
judgment is warranted under Rule 56(c) when evidence reveals
no genuine dispute regarding any material fact, and that the
moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). To award summary judgment, “[a]
court must be satisfied that no reasonable trier of fact
could find for the nonmoving party or, in other words, that
the evidence favoring the nonmoving party is insufficient to
enable a reasonable jury to return a verdict in her
favor.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S.
317, 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986).
party moving for summary judgment bears the initial
responsibility of informing the district court of the basis
for its motion and identifying those portions of the record
it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of
material fact. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323, 106 S.Ct.
2548. The non-moving party must then go beyond the pleadings
and designate “specific facts showing that there is a
genuine issue for trial.” Id. at 324, 477 U.S.
317, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265. Conclusory allegations,
speculation, unsubstantiated assertions, and legalistic
arguments are not an adequate substitute for specific facts
showing a genuine issue for trial. TIG Ins. Co. v.
Sedgwick James of Wash., 276 F.3d 754, 759 (5th Cir.
2002); SEC v. Recile, 10 F.3d 1093, 1097 (5th
Cir.1997); Little, 37 F.3d at 1075. In reviewing the
evidence, factual controversies are to be resolved in favor
of the nonmovant, “but only when . . . both parties
have submitted evidence of contradictory facts.”
liability analysis under Mississippi law requires three
determinations: (1) legal status of the injured person, (2)
relevant duty of care, and (3) defendant's compliance
with that duty.” Wood v. RIH Acquisitions MS II
LLC, 556 F.3d 274, 275 (5th Cir. 2009) (citing
Massey v. Tingle, 867 So.2d 235, 239 (Miss. 2004)).
In the present case, it is undisputed that Plaintiff was a
business invitee at the time of the incident. “[A]
business invitee [is] a person who goes upon the premises of
another in answer to the express or implied invitation of the
owner or occupant for their mutual advantage.”
Hersey v. Food Giant Supermarkets, Inc., No.
1:15-CV-127-SA, 2017 WL 81770, *2 (N.D. Miss. Jan. 9, 2017)
(citing Kinstley v. Dollar Tree Stores, Inc., 63
F.Supp.3d 658, 661 (S.D.Miss. Dec. 3, 2014) (internal
law imposes upon a business owner a duty to keep the business
premises “reasonably safe and to warn of any dangerous
condition that is not readily apparent.” Parker v.
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 261 Fed.Appx. 724, 725-26 (5th
Cir. 2008); Munford, Inc. v. Fleming, 597 So.2d
1282, 1284 (Miss. 1992). This includes the duty to “warn
of any dangerous conditions not readily apparent which the
owner knew, or should have known, in the exercise of
reasonable care, and the duty to conduct reasonable
inspections to discover dangerous conditions existing on the
premises.” Pigg, 991 So.2d at 1199-1200
(quoting Gaines v. K-Mart Corp., 860 So.2d 1214,
1216 (Miss. 2003)). The breach of either duty supports a
claim of negligence. Pigg, 991 So.2d at 1200;
Mayfield v. The Hairbender, 903 So.2d 733, 738
(Miss. 2005); Sears, Roebuck & Co. v. Tisdale,
185 So.2d 916, 917 (Miss. 1966) (“The basis of
liability is negligence and not injury.”).
order to prove breach in a slip-and-fall case, a plaintiff
(1) show that some negligent act of the defendant caused
[her] injury; or (2) show that the defendant had actual
knowledge of a dangerous condition and failed to warn the
plaintiff; or (3) show that the dangerous condition existed
for a sufficient amount of time to impute constructive
knowledge to the defendant, in that the defendant should have
known of the dangerous condition.
Kinstley, 63 F.Supp.3d at 661 (quoting Anderson
v. B.H. Acquisition, Inc., 771 So.2d 914, 918 (Miss.
2000)). Stated simply, a plaintiff “cannot succeed on a
premises-liability claim without showing either that the
defendant created the dangerous condition or that the
defendant possessed actual or constructive knowledge of the
dangerous condition in sufficient time to remedy it.”
Jones v. Imperial Palace of Mississippi,
LLC, 147 So.3d 318, 322 (Miss. 2014).