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Faygie Denniser v. Columbia Hospital Corporation of South Broward, Case No. 4D13-1427 (4th DCA)

In Denniser, the plaintiff appealed a summary judgment entered in favor of the defense in a case involving a slip and fall on a wet floor at the defendant hospital. The plaintiff argued the trial court erred in two respects: First, the plaintiff argued the trial court erred in finder her status to be an uninvited licensee or trespasser; and second, she argued that there was a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the defendant hospital knew of the wet floor and her presence in the kitchen before her fall, but failed to warn her.

The plaintiff had been a frequent visitor to the hospital during her mother’s week-long stay. On one visit to the hospital, the plaintiff went into the kitchen through a closed, unlocked door. While inside the kitchen, the plaintiff slipped and fell on the wet floor. After falling, the plaintiff alleges that a hospital employee told her to be careful because it’s wet in the kitchen. Plaintiff sued. At summary judgment, the defendant hospital’s risk manager testified in an affidavit that the kitchen was for employee and staff use only, and that a sign posted on the wall next to the entry door read “staff only.”

As to the plaintiff’s status as an uninvited licensee or trespasser, the Fourth DCA affirmed. The Court found that the plaintiff lost her status as an invitee by going into a part of the premises that was beyond the scope of her invitation.

The Court then explained that the duty to warn an uninvited licensee or trespasser of any known, concealed dangers arises only when the owner discovers their presence. The Fourth DCA found no record evidence that the plaintiff’s presence in the kitchen was not known to the defendant hospital before the fall, and the Court therefore ruled that the facts were not sufficient for the trial court to find no genuine issue of material fact as to whether the defendant knew of the plaintiff’s presence in the kitchen. As such, the Court reversed.

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