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Liability Of Premises

feldman_amy Amy Feldman
Amy E. Feldman is a business commentator and legal business...
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By Amy E. Feldman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - What is a retailer’s duty to its customers – even the clumsy ones?

Last year, a man buying pet supplies at Pet Smart in Virginia slid on a pile of dog poop and injured his back. It’s got all the slapstick of slipping on a banana peel, but with the added stink value that makes it good comedy.

But you know, not for him. He needed back surgery, and sued the company.

When you own property, you owe a duty (and I don’t mean that in the poop sense of the word) to those who come onto that property. For people a store invites to come in and buy their stuff, the store is responsible to maintain the premises in a safe condition and to eliminate known hazards. In cases where stores allow pets to come in, that store can reasonably expect pets to do their doo—and therefore should routinely check for such messes and clean them and when they don’t, they face big, stinky court cases.

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