In Guru v Coles Supermarkets Australia Pty Ltd (2016) NSWDC 349 the Plaintiff sustained personal injury to her torso and limbs when she slipped on a grape and fell over in Coles supermarket.
The Plaintiff noticed when she fell that there were numerous squashed grapes on the floor. A Coles employee told her she had not had a chance to clean them up.
At trial Coles alleged the Plaintiff’s own negligence had caused the fall. It also argued that the risks were obvious and so Coles did not have a duty to warn.
The Court noted that Coles wanted its customers to pay attention to the shelves and therefore it was unreasonable to expect customers would notice the grapes on the floor without warning. The Court held the store had breached its duty to take reasonable care against a foreseeable risk of personal injury. The injury could have been avoided by a functional inspection and cleaning system.
The Plaintiff therefore succeeded with no reduction for contributory negligence.
This judgment is consistent with other recent personal injury decisions, such as one by the Queensland Court of Appeal which held that Woolworths was liable for the injuries of an employee who also slipped on a grape. The judge in that case suggested the personal injury could have been avoided by placing mats around the area, where the grapes were displayed.
These decisions illustrate to store owners and other occupiers the need to have operative procedures in place to prevent personal injury claims.
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Matthews Folbigg has over 50 years’ experience protecting personal injury and compensation rights of people living in Parramatta and the Hills.