Justices agree to hear appeal in Menards negligence dispute

A ruling from the Indiana Court of Appeals that partially entered judgment in favor of a Menards store in a customer’s personal injury suit will go before the Indiana Supreme Court after the justices granted transfer to the case last week.

The high court agreed to hear arguments in the case of Walter Griffin, Jr., et al. v. Menard, Inc., et al., 21S-CT-119, one of three cases granted transfer during the week ending March 19.

A memorandum decision that was later published, Griffin involves premises liability negligence and loss of consortium claims brought by Walter and Candus Griffin. Walter was injured in an Elkhart County Menards store when a sink fell on him. Walter was trying to pull the box containing the sink off of a shelf, but the bottom of the box broke, allowing the sink to fall on him.

The Elkhart Superior Court entered summary judgment for Menard Inc., but the Indiana Court of Appeals partially reversed in an October opinion.

“We conclude that, based on the evidence designated to the trial court, Menard failed in its initial burden of showing the absence of a genuine issue of material fact regarding whether it had actual or constructive knowledge of whether the particular sink box was defective,” the COA held. “Additionally, Menard failed to meet its initial burden of showing an absence of material fact on the Griffins’ res ipsa loquitur claim.”

“However, we conclude that Menard met its burden of negating an element of the Griffins’ spoliation claim,” the lower appellate court continued. “Accordingly, we affirm the grant of summary judgment in favor of Menard on the spoliation claim and reverse the grant of summary judgment with respect to the Griffins’ claims of premises liability negligence and res ipsa loqutur.”

Supreme Court arguments in Griffin have not yet been scheduled.

The justices also granted transfer to the cases of Danny Lee Williams v. State of Indiana and Michael Poore, et al. v. Indianapolis Public Schools, handing down decisions in both cases last week.

In Williams, the court unanimously affirmed Danny Williams’ six-year sentence but urged trial courts to provide clarity when accepting plea agreements that include a waiver of rights to appeal.

In Poore, the court upheld judgment for Indianapolis Public Schools on a family’s negligence claim but vacated the Court of Appeals’ reasoning for reaching the same conclusion.

The justices denied transfer to 18 cases in the week ending March 19, voting unanimously in all cases but two. The full list of transfer decisions can be read here.

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