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December 2012

Gordon & Rees San Francisco Team Wins Summary Judgment In Premises Liability Case Involving In-Store Display

On Oct. 8, Gordon & Rees partner Adam Sugarman and associate Jennifer Lynch obtained summary judgment on behalf of a large grocery retailer in a unique, fact-intensive premises liability case.

The plaintiff sought several hundred thousand dollars in damages, claiming that a canned good display in the defendant's store fell on her when she removed one of the cans. The plaintiff submitted expert testimony that the display was stacked incorrectly; the defendant did not have appropriate safety measures in place to prevent such an accident; and after the accident the defendant's store manager admitted "those cans were stacked wrong." 

Sugarman and Lynch carefully constructed the defendant's motion for summary judgment, arguing that even if the display in question had been stacked improperly, the company had no knowledge of the danger. Sugarman and Lynch further argued the defendant's general safety inspection procedures in the store were per se reasonable; the plaintiff's proffered expert testimony was irrelevant; and the purported statement of the store's manager that the cans were "stacked wrong" was insufficient to establish the defendant's knowledge of the condition.
 
Alameda County Superior Court Judge Jon Tigar agreed with the defendant and granted its summary judgment motion.

Jennifer M. Lynch
Adam B. Sugarman



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