I have already blogged about how surveillance cameras have made slam dunk cases out of slam dunk losers. Here’s another example. Just this week I took in a doubtful slip-and-fall case. The plaintiff slipped and fell on some liquid of unknown origin in the produce section of a local supermarket. In the pre-surveillance-camera era, this case would have been a loser. Why? Because you have to show either that the supermarket created the spill, or knew about it and did nothing to fix it, or failed to notice it when it should have noticed it. And how do you prove that when it is just as likely that an inconsiderate shopper made the mess and did not report it a minute before the slip and fall? In the pre-surveillance camera era, I would have turned this case down.
But I did not turn it down, and for one reason: surveillance cameras. I knew there was likely to be a surveillance video that would tell the story of what happened. So I wrote to the supermarket, told them I was representing the slip-and-fall victim, and demanded that they preserve the video subject to legal sanctions if they did not,
Today I received a phone call from a supermarket insurance adjuster who informed me that the video shows a customer spilling a drink 15 minutes before the slip-and-fall, and then shows a supermarket floor inspector walk right past the spill without seeing it, and then shows my client turning a corner and slipping on the spill. It is a slam dunk because the supermarket employee was clearly negligent in performing his floor inspection, which caused him to overlook the obvious spill, and my client was blameless because she could not have noticed the spill before she turned the corner.
Moral of the story for my fellow Central and Syracuse (and beyond) personal injury lawyers: Before you turn a supermarket slip and fall case down, demand to see the surveillance tape.