On December 5, 1997, Prince went to a store operated by Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., to look at the bicycles displayed for sale. As he approached the area where the bicycles were displayed, he saw packing debris scattered on the floor by the display racks. Prince stated in an affidavit that he detoured around the packing debris and that, when he did, he stepped on a piece of plastic trim, about the same color as the floor, and slipped and fell. Prince said that the only witnesses to his fall were an unidentified man and child and that those people immediately went to summon a Wal-Mart employee for assistance. Scott Bauer, the manager on duty at the time of the alleged accident, testified in his deposition that he had identified a piece of rubber stripping on the floor immediately following the accident. Bauer testified that he found the stripping in a horseshoe shape and noticed that it would not lie flat on the floor. Bauer explained that the strip was made of rubber and would compress when pressed against the floor. Bauer stated that, as far as he knew, no one had been aware, before the alleged accident, that the stripping was on the floor.
Prince sued Wal-Mart on December 3, 1999, for damages based on the injuries he claimed to have suffered, asserting negligence on the part of Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart moved for a summary judgment on August 25, 2000. The trial court heard oral argument on Wal-Mart's motion on January 20, 2000, and subsequently entered a summary judgment for Wal-Mart.
Prince appealed to the supreme court; that court transferred the appeal to this court, pursuant to § 12-2-7(6), Ala.Code 1975. A party is entitled to a summary judgment when no genuine issue of material fact exists and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Rule 56(c), Ala. R. Civ. P. "Our standard of review in cases involving summary judgments is de novo." Lee v. Burdette, 715 So.2d 804, 806 (Ala.Civ.App.1998). "In reviewing the disposition of a motion for [a] summary judgment, we utilize the same standard as that of the trial court in determining whether the evidence before the court made out a genuine issue of material fact" and whether the movant "is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Bussey v. John Deere Co., 531 So.2d 860, 862 (Ala.1988); Rule 56(c)(3), Ala. R. Civ. P. "[I]f the moving party makes a prima facie showing that no genuine issue of material fact exists, then the burden ... shifts to the non-movant; ... the non-movant must show `substantial evidence' in support of
The summary judgment consists of a dated notation signed by the trial judge on the case action summary sheet; no statement of facts is included in the judgment.
One seeking to recover on a negligence claim must prove a breach of a duty owed and must prove that the breach proximately caused injury or damage. Lowe's Home Ctrs., Inc. v. Laxson, 655 So.2d 943, 945-46 (Ala.1994). The duty a premises owner owes to an invitee is well established. A premises owner owes a duty to an invitee to exercise reasonable care in maintaining the premises in a safe condition, or, if the premises are in a dangerous condition, to warn the invitee of the danger so that by the exercise of ordinary care, the invitee can avoid the danger. Armstrong v. Georgia Marble Co., 575 So.2d 1051, 1053 (Ala.1991). The imposition of this duty does not make a premises owner an insurer of the invitee's safety. Hose v. Winn-Dixie Montgomery, Inc., 658 So.2d 403, 404 (Ala.1995). A premises owner is liable in negligence only if it "fail[s] to use reasonable care in maintaining its premises in a reasonably safe manner." Id. Further, when an invitor has knowledge of a dangerous condition, no liability can attach if the invitee also possesses knowledge of the dangerous condition. Ex parte Mountain Top Indoor Flea Market, Inc., 699 So.2d 158 (Ala.1997). In Ex parte Mountain Top Indoor Flea Market, the court stated:
699 So.2d at 161 (citations omitted).
Wal-Mart supported its summary-judgment motion with Bauer's affidavit describing
In the present case, Prince testified that he carefully navigated around the open and obvious obstacle of the packing debris. While he was walking around the debris, Prince says, he failed to notice a piece of stripping on the floor, and he claims that he slipped and fell on that stripping. Much like the claimant in Ex parte Mountain Top Indoor Flea Market, who realized that the graveled area in which she fell was treacherous and was walking over the loose gravel with extreme care, Prince also acknowledged that the debris in the Wal-Mart aisle was dangerous and admits that he began to navigate around it with great care. See 699 So.2d at 162.
We conclude that Wal-Mart made a prima facie showing that it had no notice, either actual or constructive, of the piece of stripping on the floor; thus the burden shifted to Prince to present substantial evidence indicating that Wal-Mart had actual or constructive notice of the piece of stripping on the floor before Prince slipped and fell on it. See Hose, supra. Prince opposed Wal-Mart's motion for summary judgment by filing his own affidavit and his deposition, in which he avers that he was stepping over debris when his foot hit the plastic strip and slid, causing him to fall. In his deposition, Prince states that he had no idea how long the stripping had been on the floor. We hold that Prince failed to introduce substantial evidence to defeat Wal-Mart's properly supported motion for summary judgment.
CRAWLEY and PITTMAN, JJ., concur.
YATES, P.J., and MURDOCK, J., concur in the result.