Judge Joseph Leeson of Eastern District of The US District Court dismissed the plaintiff’s complaint where she alleged she fell while walking in the “water aisle” of the defendant’s supermarket having averred she had no medical condition and believed “…that there must have been a substance in the aisle which caused her to fall.” The defendant moved to dismiss the Complaint for failure to state a claim and the court granted the motion with leave to amend the Complaint.
The court pointed out that the only factual allegation regarding a dangerous condition is the averment stating: “as plaintiff has no medical condition, plaintiff believes and avers that there must have been a substance in the aisle which caused her to fall.” Considering that the mere happening of an accident does not give rise to an inference of negligence, the court concluded that plaintiff is asking the court to draw an impermissible inference based on the averment of what “must have been.” As is often the case, the court allowed plaintiff seven days to amend the Complaint to make the sufficient factual pleadings.
The maxim of accepting as true all the allegations in the Complaint, however, is not applicable to legal conclusions. The trial court further noted the law of premises liability wherein the plaintiff must establish a condition that would involve an unreasonable risk of harm to the customer.
The concepts described by the court in this opinion are worth bearing in mind where the plaintiff is asserting a claim based on vague and open-ended descriptions as to how a slip and fall or auto accident occurred. Language like this requires inquiry into the specifics of the event in the pre-litigation context.