Jay Ramos was seriously injured in a fall on ice at the high-traffic front entrance of an Atlanta-area QT store four days after a snow storm in the Atlanta area, after roads had cleared and businesses were operating nearly at normal capacity. He filed a personal injury lawsuit against the gas station operator, alleging that it had failed to keep its property safe and clear ice and snow from the front area of the store. At trial, which included the testimony of Mr. Ramos as well as a co-worker and numerous QT employees, a Fulton County jury returned a verdict in his favor in the amount of $650,000 for his slip and fall, resulting in a judgment of $520,000 due to the jury's apportionment of 20% of the fault to him.
QuikTrip, unhappy with the outcome, filed an appeal to the Georgia Court of Appeals. On June 13, 2019, the Court of Appeals upheld the verdict and judgment in an unpublished opinion. John Hadden handled the appeal, and the case was tried by Chadwick Walker and Orlando Ojeda. QT did not file a further appeal to the Georgia Supreme Court.
In Georgia, landowners, including businesses, can be liable to customers and other visitors injured on their property when the landowner or operator fails to keep the premises safe. In order to prevail, the injured plaintiff must be able to show that the landowner or operator knew, or should have known, of the hazardous condition (which could be a substance, such as ice or a liquid, or a "static condition," such as an uneven sidewalk or poorly designed stairs). The plaintiff must also be able to show that he or she was unaware of the condition.
In Mr. Ramos's case, he presented evidence at trial that QT employees were aware of the conditions on the property but did not take adequate steps to clear ice and snow from areas where customers would normally walk. He also presented evidence that he did not know about the dangerous condition.
Cases involving weather events like rain and snow, can be difficult to prove due to the fact that many appellate cases have found that a plaintiff cannot prevail in such cases due to their equal knowledge of the "generally prevailing" weather conditions. But under appropriate circumstances, as in Mr. Ramos's case, an injured person can prevail where it can be shown that a reasonable customer would not have expected the hazardous condition to remain days after the event.