Court says supermarket at fault for woman’s fall

2014-04-03 00:00

A SHOPPING centre must pay damages to a Durban women who slipped and fell on a wet floor.

A cleaner did not ensure that the floor was dry at the Avonmore super market in Durban before he moved on to mop another area.

The appeal court in Bloemfontein ruled that the cleaner had also not left a warning sign close enough to the wet area, to let shoppers know the floor was slippery.

The appeal court dismissed Avonmore’s appeal against a judgment of the high court in Durban in favour of Petronella Christina Venter with costs.

Judge Nonkosi Mhlantla ruled on behalf of the full bench that Avonmore is liable for the damages that Venter can prove. The court did not determine the damages.

Venter was shopping over her lunch hour at the shopping centre on June 30, 2006, when she fell.

She suffered several injuries and sued Avonmore for damages.

Avonmore opposed the case and said the cleaning of the shop was subcontracted to DBU cleaning services. Avonmore said DBU was responsible for Venter’s injuries because the cleaner who had left a wet floor was in their employ. The cleaner has meanwhile died.

Avonmore could not prove that it had a legal contract with DBU and exactly what DBU’s cleaning duties entailed. The supermarket’s only proof that it had a contract with DBU was a document signed in January 2001 and which had expired at the end of that year.

The court found that Avonmore was solely responsible. The owner of the shop has a legal duty to ensure that the premises are safe when clients do their shopping.

In Venter’s case, the cleaner had to mop a small area and dry it before moving on to clean another area, Mhlantla said.

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