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Piccirilli v. Rockaway Townsquare Mall

A-2446-00T5 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 2002) (Unpublished)

LANDOWNER’S LIABILITY; MALLS— Absent some other negligence on its part, if a shopping mall makes reasonable efforts to discover and clean up customer-created spills, it will not be liable for an injury caused by such a spill.

A four year old child slipped and fell near the food court of a shopping mall. Under New Jersey law, the duty of the mall is expressed as follows: “[T]he landowner owe[s] a duty of reasonable care to guard against any dangerous conditions on his or her property that the owner either knows about or should have discovered. That standard of care encompasses the duty to conduct a reasonable inspection to discover latent dangerous conditions.” The child’s parents argued that based upon that rule of law, “the mall had a duty to do everything required to eliminate the risk to the infant… .” Unfortunately for them, all that the law requires is that the “mall take reasonable steps to provide the infant plaintiff with a safe place – to do ‘all that a reasonably prudent man would do in the light of the risk of injury his operation entailed.’” Here, the mall produced evidence of reasonable maintenance procedures and that those procedures were being utilized at the mall. “There was nothing about the clear, colorless, odorless liquid which inherently permit[ed] an inference of long continued presence… .” The child’s parents could offer no evidence, “expert or other to challenge the reasonableness of the provisions the mall made to discover and remove customer-created spills…” nor could they offer any evidence of negligence on the part of the mall or its maintenance service. Consequently, the complaint was dismissed against the mall.

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