Lawyers Divided on Impact of Mode-of-Operation Ruling

By: Donna Russo, Esq.

A recent ruling by the New Jersey Supreme court could have a significant—and lamentable—impact on slip-and-fall cases. I was quoted in a  December 11 2015, New Jersey Law Journal article on the ruling, which generally restricts the use of the “mode-of-operation” doctrine by plaintiffs in slip-and-fall cases to self-service areas of fast-food and grocery establishments. Established decades ago, the doctrine eliminates the need for an injured customer to prove notice of an unsafe condition in instances where the way in which a business operates creates the hazard. As I noted in the article, the recent ruling restricting application of the doctrine “seems like the courts are whittling away at the charge. Plaintiffs are going to find it hard to prove that the defendant had notice of a dangerous condition.” Time will tell the full impact of the ruling but it certainly warrants close attention.