Supermarket successfully appeals $151,000 grape slip accident

Date: Aug 17, 2017

A woman who won $151,000 in compensation after slipping on a grape in a Sydney supermarket may not receive her payout following a NSW Supreme Court appeal.

The case, which has been widely reported in the media, originally saw the famous supermarket brand ruled as negligent when the plaintiff injured herself in the fruit and vegetables aisle of a Leichhardt store in 2012.

CCTV showed the woman falling over after slipping on the stray grape soon after the store opened at 10am on a Sunday. The trial judge believed the grape was present on the floor before the shop opened for the day, claiming it likely fell while employees brought fruit from the cool room to the shelves.

The judge rejected three other possibilities:

  • A customer dropped the grape after the store opened;
  • The grape was caught up in a mat and was dislodged when two employees removed the mat; and
  • Overnight cleaners missed the grape when performing their duties.

Public liability claim and appeal

Ultimately, the original judge said the grape was a slip hazard that posed a threat to safety.

He noted that produce staff should also have spotted and removed the grape, but there was no one present at the time. As a result, he found the supermarket negligent and awarded compensation.

The supermarket appealed the decision, claiming the judge erred in several ways. The organisation challenged his rulings regarding:

  • The grape being on the floor before the store opened at 10am;
  • There being no staff in the produce section when the accident occurred; and
  • That the supermarket was negligent and failed to take adequate precautions to prevent injury.

The appellate judges agreed with the organisation on all counts.

“Since the finding that the grape was on the floor before 10am should be set aside his Honour’s implicit finding of negligence by [the supermarket’s] staff in the produce area before 10am cannot stand,” they stated.

They overturned the original decision, which has put the plaintiff’s public liability claim in jeopardy.

Pursuing a public liability claim in NSW

It is not yet clear whether the woman will appeal the decision, but if so, she could still receive compensation if a ruling goes in her favour.

Would you like to know more about public liability claims and the appeals process?

Our lawyers are experts at slips, trips and falls cases, so please get in touch with a member of our team at Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers.

Call us now on 1800 004 878 to book a free appointment with one of my compensation experts, or email your enquiry.