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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Sue Bagley slipped and fell on a liquid substance spilled in an Albertsons grocery store. No other shoppers were in the aisle when she fell. Several minutes elapsed before she could contact anyone for help. A fireman was the first person to come to her aid; he also fell while approaching her and later observed a trail of the substance down the aisle and into an adjacent aisle. Several employees began sliding halfway down the aisle when they later approached to assist. Although the employees opined that the liquid might have been meat blood leaking from a shopping cart, nobody could positively identify the substance. Bagley sued in state court, seeking recovery for injuries to her back and hips resulting from the fall. Albertsons removed the case to federal district court and sought summary judgment, which the district court granted, finding that Bagley could not provide evidence to demonstrate that the store created the puddle or had constructive notice. HOLDING:Reversed and remanded. Bagley alleged that Albertsons created the spill by either improperly wrapping meat products or by improperly inspecting wrapped meat for rips. Bagley supported her allegations with the deposition testimony of two store employees who were present after her fall and opined that the spill was probably from a leaky meat package. Given that the employees were familiar with the appearance of meat effluence, the court stated that their testimony was competent summary judgment evidence that the liquid substance was meat blood. Bagley, however, presented no evidence as to how the liquid reached the floor. She attempted to rely on the testimony of a single employee who stated, “I was thinking it was like chicken blood or meat blood that just a customer stopped for a second and it was dripping out of the bottom of their buggy.” The court found that testimony speculative at best, and even if it were sufficient evidence for a jury to find that the liquid came from a cart, it is yet another step to show Albertsons’ responsibility for the leak. Thus, the court concluded that no reasonable jury could find that Bagley presented sufficient evidence to demonstrate that Albertsons created a leak. Alternatively, Bagley alleged that Albertsons had constructive notice of the puddle on the floor. Whether the period of time that a condition existed was sufficient to provide a merchant with constructive notice is a fact question that must be submitted to the jury, the court stated. There is no bright line time period, the court stated, but “some positive evidence is required of how long the condition existed prior to the fall.” Bagley presented testimony from the fireman that the spill covered a significant area extending through the aisle and into an adjoining back aisle. The court found that such testimony supported a reasonable inference that the liquid leaked from a customer’s cart. Bagley testified that when she entered the aisle and slipped, the aisle was empty. This testimony supported a reasonable inference that the other cart had sufficient time to clear the aisle, implying the passage of “some period of time.” Therefore, the court held that Bagley presented sufficient evidence to survive summary judgment on the issue of constructive notice. OPINION:Smith, J.; Smith, Benavides and Dennis, JJ.

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