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Goodman v. McDonald's Corp.

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga

June 6, 2019

DWIGHT GOODMAN, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
McDONALD'S CORPORATION, ET AL., Defendants-Appellees.

          Civil Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case No. CV-17-875904

          Shapero & Green, L.L.C., Michael I. Shapero, Sean Burke, Brian J. Green, and James A. Marx, for appellant.

          Jay S. Hanson, for appellees.

          JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION

          MICHELLE J. SHEEHAN, JUDGE

         {¶ 1} Dwight Goodman ("Goodman") appeals from a judgment of the trial court granting summary judgment in favor of JN House Enterprises, Inc. ("JN House"). After a careful review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the trial court's judgment.

         {¶ 2} In the early morning of September 2, 2016, Goodman went inside a McDonald's restaurant operated by JN House located at Miles Road in Bedford Heights. He purchased a cup of coffee, and on his way out, he slipped and fell on the sidewalk just outside the restaurant. The sidewalk had been scrubbed and cleaned by an employee earlier that morning.

         {¶3} On February 14, 2017, Goodman filed a lawsuit against JN House, alleging he was injured due to a negligently maintained sidewalk. Based on the deposition testimony of Goodman and the restaurant's employees, JN House moved for summary judgment, asserting that the open-and-obvious doctrine barred Goodman's negligence claim and that there were caution signs in the area.

         {¶ 4} Goodman opposed JN House's motion for summary judgment, alleging that an employee of the restaurant had been cleaning the sidewalk with a mixture of water and a degreasing agent, which created a hazardous condition, and there were no warning signs placed on the area when he fell.

         Plaintiffs Deposition Testimony

         {¶5} In his deposition, Goodman testified he entered the McDonald's to purchase coffee around 8:00 a.m. As he testified, when he entered the restaurant, there were no wet floor signs on the sidewalk or in the vestibule area of the restaurant. He testified that, when he entered the store, he "might have slipped a little bit but [he] didn't really pay it [any] attention." After he ordered a cup of coffee, he exited the restaurant the same way he entered it, but slipped and fell on the sidewalk outside the vestibule area. He fell toward his left and caught himself with his left arm. He went back to the restaurant to tell the restaurant's manager, Robert Medina ("Medina"), that he fell. After he filled out an incident report, he went to work. He went to an urgent care later that same day because his back hurt from the slip and fall and required medical treatment.

         {¶ 6} Goodman testified there was an independent witness to the incident: a man inside the restaurant saw him fall. The man provided Goodman and Medina his contact information. Both Goodman and Medina admit they later lost the information.

         Employees' Deposition Testimony

         {¶ 7} Medina talked to Goodman after the incident. He stated Goodman reported the incident around 6:50 a.m., although Goodman himself stated he was at the restaurant around 8:00 a.m. Medina acknowledged an employee, Dorothy Stevens, scrubbed the restaurant's sidewalks with a mixture of water and a degreasing agent earlier that morning.

         {¶ 8} Medina gave his account of the incident, testifying as follows:

A: He [Goodman] came in and he told me that he slipped on the rug at first and that he wanted to fill out an incident report. And as I was walking back to the back to get a piece of paper and a pen he told the other manager, Linda, that was there, that he fell on the sidewalk.
And then when I came back up front he took me out and showed me what he claimed was an oily rug in the vestibule. And I told him it wasn't oil, it was just wet, that we had scrubbed the sidewalks that morning. And he told me, no, that's oily.
Q. So when you went out to the vestibule - first you go out to the vestibule area, correct?
A. Yes.
Q. And you're telling me Mr. Goodman told you at first he slipped on the rug in the vestibule?
A. Yes.
Q. And that he believed it was greasy, ...

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