Goddard v. Boston & Maine R.R. Co.

179 Mass. 52 (1901).


The plaintiff slipped on a banana at a train station, could have been dropped by anyone within a minute of the fall. The court finds there was no negligence.

Additional Notes

There is a rule of law about the company who has a duty to keep the rail platform reasonably safe. Therefore, they have a duty to detect and remove hazards.

However, the issue here is that we have no idea of knowing how long the banana had been on the floor. This means that the company needs to have notice.

Constructive notice is that they did know or should have known because the banana had been there long enough.

Anjou v. Boston Elevated Railway Co.

208 Mass. 273 (1911)


Similar circumstances as the previous case, but this time the banana was old. It was easy to tell that it had been on the platform for a while and should have been removed by the defendants. Negligence was found.

Additional Notes

Same type of case and same duty. There is still no actual evidence about how long the banana had been present. However, the state of the banana peel was such that an inference could be drawn about the period of time the banana had been on the ground.

We can make these inferences because common sense tells us what happens when fruit gets old.

Joey v. Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Co.

405 F.2d 464 (1968).


The plaintiff slipped on a banana in the supermarket. To be negligent the defendant either needed to put the banana on the floor or have been provided notice of its presence. Although the banana was old, there was no way of knowing just how long it had been there. Because there was no notice, there was no negligence.

Additional Notes

Here, even though the banana was dirty, there are other circumstances that could have put the banana in that state. It was still sticky around the edges and it could have been dropped in a pile of dirt.

Ortega v. Kmart Corp.

114 Cal. Rptr. 2d 470 (2001).


Was there negligence for not checking the isles often enough.


Knowledge may be shown by circumstantial evidence which is nothing more than one or more inferences which may be said to arise reasonable from a series of proven facts.”

Plaintiff has the burden of proof to show that there was sufficient notice.


There was negligence.


Plaintiff has slipped and fallen on spilled milk in a Kmart. Sued saying that they should have been checking the isles more often.

The defendant says that they check the isles usually as often as 15 to 35 minutes in between checks but could have been up to 2 hours.


If the plaintiff was able to show that a reasonable time had passed before an inspection to the area had occurred, then it is up to the jury to determine if there was negligence. Since the jury used that information to determine that it was negligence, the ruling is upheld.


Another slip and fall case. Circumstantial evidence is enough to say that somebody could be negligent. This is going to follow a reasonable person standard.

Additional Notes

The store should have had constructive notice because the site had not been inspected by an employee within a reasonable period of time.

The procedure here is significant:

  1. Plaintiff sued
  2. Defendant says that there is insufficient evidence, moves for motion for directed verdict.
  3. The court denies
  4. Jury gives verdict for plaintiff
  5. The defendant files motion for a directed judgment not withstanding the verdict (should not have gone to the jury).
  6. At the same time, defendant files for new trial.

Jasko v. F.W. Woolworth Co.

177 Colo. 418 (1972).


Plaintiff slipped and fell on a pizza. The plaintiff needs to show that there was notice for there to be negligence. However, here there is no requirement of notice because the defendants actions showed that they knew there was a danger of pizza ending up on the floor (constantly cleaning up). Thus, because the danger was easily foreseeable, there is no requirement of direct notice.

Additional Notes

There was a continuous dangerous condition so there is no need to show notice.

H.E. Butt Grow. Co. v. Resendez

988 S.W.2d 218 (Tex. 1999).


Plaintiff slipped and fell on grapes near a grocery store’s sampling display. To show negligence the plaintiff has to prove:

  1. Notice
  2. Condition produced unreasonable risk of harm
  3. Defendant did not use care to reduce the risk
  4. Injury proximately caused

Because the defendant had taken precautions to reduce the risk (slip free floor, warning cones, level sampling bowl) there was not an unreasonable risk of harm. No negligence.

Additional Notes

These cases all deal with circumstantial evidence. When we hear this, we often think “they have a weak case”. However, in many cases, circumstantial evidence is far superior than eyewitness testimony. This is because witnesses can be impeachable. Meaning, people don’t often recall information accurately. This is the reason why we have statute of limitations (to account for fading memory in testimony).

Circumstantial evidence on the other hand can be seen as more accurate. For instance, DNA evidence is circumstantial evidence (i.e. didn’t see the crime but the DNA matches the person who committed the crime or tort).


The content contained in this article may contain inaccuracies and is not intended to reflect the opinions, views, beliefs, or practices of any academic professor or publication. Instead, this content is a reflection on the author’s understanding of the law and legal practices.

Categories: 1L Fall, Torts

Will Laursen

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