Justices to hear premises-liability arguments against Menards

The Indiana Supreme Court will hear oral arguments this week in a premises-liability case against a northern Indiana Menards store.

The court on Thursday will hear the case of Walter Griffin, Jr. and Candus Griffin v. Menard, Inc. and Briggs Plumbing Products, LLC, 21S-CT-119.

Griffin was initially a memorandum decision that was later published by the Indiana Court of Appeals. It involves premises liability negligence and loss of consortium claims brought against the home improvement store by Walter and Candus Griffin.

Walter was injured in an Elkhart County Menards store when a sink fell on him. He was trying to pull the box containing the sink off of a shelf when the bottom of the box broke, allowing the sink to fall.

The Elkhart Superior Court entered summary judgment for the store, but the Court of Appeals partially reversed in October.

“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.”

Arguments in Griffin will begin at 9 a.m. Thursday. The court will hear the case in its Indiana Statehouse courtroom, but due to the pandemic in-person participants will be limited to the justices, court personnel and no more than two attorneys per party.

The arguments will be live-streamed here.

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