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New Jersey Supreme Court Grants New Trial in KFC Personal Injury Case

The New Jersey Supreme Court has overturned a jury verdict in favor of a Delaware woman against a Cherry Hill, New Jersey Kentucky Fried Chicken, finding that the trial judge incorrectly instructed the jury as to the burden of proof. The plaintiff, Janice Prioleau, was awarded $138,000 after she allegedly slipped and fell in the restaurant during a rainstorm. The case will now be scheduled for a new trial.

Attorneys say that Prioleau was walking near the restrooms at the restaurant on December 26, 2009, when she slipped and fell on what she testified was either water or grease. She admitted that she did not seek immediate medical care, but began to experience numbness and tingling in her back, arms and legs once she returned home to Delaware, and required approximately two months of physical therapy. Her lawyers had claimed that KFC kitchen employees had tracked grease from the kitchen to the bathrooms.

In a premises liability case involving a commercial entity, the injured person typically has to show that the owner of the business knew of the existing danger. The judge, however, told the jury that they could consider whether an exception to that rule, known as the “mode of operation” exception, applied in this case. The “mode of operation” exception states that an injured party need not show knowledge of a hazard if the risk should be reasonably expected or discovered as a part of the business’s mode of operation. The jury found in Prioleau’s favor and KFC appealed the verdict.

The appellate court ruled that the doctrine did not apply and the Supreme Court affirmed that decision. Justice Anne Patterson wrote that the mode-of-operation doctrine is generally limited to businesses with self-service business models, such as cafeterias and grocery stores.

Contact the New Jersey Premises Liability Lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr

At the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr, we have fought for the rights of personal injury victims in central New Jersey for more than four decades. We carefully choose the cases we handle, so that we can provide the highest levels of service and personal attention to each client. We are also happy to take over your case, if your first lawyer does not seem to have your best interests in mind.

To set us a free initial consultation, send us an e-mail or call our office at 732-537-8570.

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