THE Vincent Family Pharmacy in East London has been found liable for the injury of a 67-year-old woman who slipped and fell on its freshly washed wet floor.
Margaret Louise Ascani is suing the pharmacy, located in the Vincent Park Shopping Mall, for R1.1-million after she slipped on the floor and broke her hip in May 2011.
The high court sitting in East London found that a pharmacy had a greater duty of care to its customers because, by the nature of its business, it attracted more vulnerable people than a supermarket.
Ascani claims the freshly cleaned floor had been wet and had caused her to slip in one of the aisles in the pharmacy and injure herself.
An ambulance had been called and she had been taken to hospital.
While the pharmacy admitted the floor had been recently cleaned, it denied it was wet.
But Judge Nambitha Dambuza found that the floor had been wet and the pharmacy should have foreseen that the washing of the floor during business hours could result in an injury to customers.
It should have taken reasonable and necessary precautionary steps to warn members of the public of the possible danger.
She said the pharmacy’s stated practice of moving a warning sign from aisle to aisle as they proceeded with the cleaning, was not an adequate warning to customers of possible danger from the recently washed floor.
She said a more appropriate method would have been to place a warning sign near the entrance where customers could easily see it and not remove the sign until the floor was dry.
“The floor could also have been washed at the end of the previous business day. The [pharmacy] failed to take these steps and precautions.”
She ruled that the pharmacy should be held liable for whatever damages Ascani subsequently might prove she suffered as a result of the fall.
According to the summons before court, Ascani is asking the court to award her R1.1-million for past and future medical expenses, past and future loss of income and general damages.
The issue of the quantum of damages will be argued later this year.
Advocate Fanus Louw instructed by Niehaus McMahon Attorneys appeared for Ascani. Advocate Gavin Dugmore instructed by Bate Chubb & Dickson Inc argued the case for Vincent Family Pharmacy.