California Court of Appeals reinstates $850,000 verdict in restaurant slip case

A man’s claim that he slipped and fell due to spilled water from a dirty dish cart at the Hibachi City Buffet restaurant in Los Angeles, California was substantiated, according to a recent appeals court ruling.

On the day of the injury, Juan Perez walked from the cubicle in which he was sitting to the toilet along the corridor. The hall was used as a means of access to both the toilets and the kitchen. He did not remember that there was no moisture on the floor in the hallway on the way to the toilet. Upon his return, Perez slipped and fell. He noticed that the tiled floor was slippery due to a liquid substance, which he assumed was water, as it was transparent and odorless.

The incident was immediately reported to the restaurant and photographs were taken showing the wet floor. The restaurant acknowledged the presence of the wet floor, but disagreed with the plaintiff’s lawyer about how it got wet. Two witnesses, who were employees of the restaurant, denied that the employees used the hallway leading to the toilet. Instead, they said that the other corridor was used to carry carts full of dirty dishes. Also, at the time of the incident, the restaurant had multiple CCTV cameras to record events such as slips and falls. The displaced restaurant manager claimed to have seen nothing unusual on the video footage on the day of the incident other than the plaintiff entering the bathroom. She did not save the video and professed her ignorance when asked about keeping the evidence. The court concluded that this was not enough to prove that the restaurant was guilty of stealing evidence.

While the restaurant acknowledged that the hallway was being used by employees to transport dirty dishes to the kitchen and that the cart contained glasses containing liquid left over from diners’ meals, it did not acknowledge that this could be a reasonable reason for the trail. liquids depicted in photographs and videos taken by the plaintiff’s companion on the day of the loss.

The court noted that the liquid had flowed far out the toilet door in both directions and concluded that it had not flowed out of the toilet.

The jury in the main case awarded Perez $850,000 in damages; however, the defendant petitioned for a new trial or sentencing despite the verdict. Both decisions were satisfied. The plaintiff appealed both rulings.

After hearing the case, the California Court of Appeals overturned both orders and reinstated the jury’s decision, as well as Perez’s expenses.The Court of Appeal found that the jury reached the correct conclusion given the evidence. According to the court, “The likely explanation was simple, logical, and supported by the evidence.”

Case: Jorge Perez vs Hibachi Buffett B304824 California Court of Appeals Second Circuit Eighth Division

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