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Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Wright

Indiana Supreme Court
774 N.E.2d 891 (Ind. 2002)



Wright (plaintiff) filed suit against Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (Wal-Mart) (defendant) for negligence after she slipped on a puddle of water at a store, fell, and sustained injuries. Wal-Mart countered that Wright had been contributorily negligent. Prior to trial, a number of Wal-Mart employee documents were assembled into a “Store Manual” and provided to Wright. Several of the documents detailed how Wal-Mart employees were to respond to spills and other floor hazards. At trial, the manual was admitted into evidence. At the close of all the evidence, Wright submitted a jury instruction that said Wal-Mart’s rules, policies, practices, and procedures were evidence of the degree of care deemed by Wal-Mart to be ordinary care. Wal-Mart objected to the proposed instruction and argued that it should be left to the jury to determine what is, and is not, ordinary care. The trial court overruled Wal-Mart. The jury held for Wright. Wal-Mart appealed. The court of appeals affirmed and held that the instruction was proper, because it did not explicitly require the jury to find that the degree of care Wal-Mart subjectively believed to be ordinary care was the standard to which Wal-Mart should be held. Further, the appellate court noted that the trial court had properly instructed the jury that ordinary care was that exercised by a reasonably careful and ordinarily prudent person. The Indiana Supreme Court granted certiorari to review.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Boehm, J.)

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