Passion. Preparation. Persistence.

Navigating Premises Liability: Insights from Albertsons, LLC v. Mohammadi

by | Jul 2, 2024 | Firm News, Texas Supreme Court Weekly Update

The Texas Supreme Court recently issued its decision in Albertsons, LLC v. Mohammadi[1], and its decision has some important takeaways for premises liability claims.

The case arose out of a slip-and-fall accident that occurred inside a Randalls’ grocery store. It made its way to the Texas Supreme Court based on an allegedly improper jury charge. The issue with the jury charge arose because the trial court bifurcated the premises liability knowledge question by (1) first asking the jury to consider constructive knowledge and (2) instructing that it not consider actual knowledge unless it found that Randalls did have constructive knowledge. Generally, the question of liability as to invitees, which Mohammadi was, incorporates both actual and constructive knowledge.

The Texas Supreme Court found that any error in the jury charge was harmless for two reasons: (1) there was no evidence that Randalls had actual knowledge of the relevant dangerous condition and (2) the relevant dangerous condition was the wet floor (the condition at the time and place the injury occurred), not any antecedent situation that produced the dangerous condition.

As to the first point, the fact that the jury did not consider the issue of Randalls’ actual knowledge was harmless because there was no evidence from which the jury could have concluded that Randalls did have actual knowledge of the wet floor. Essentially, because a verdict in favor of Mohammadi on the actual knowledge issue could have been “properly discarded for legally insufficient evidence . . . there [was] no harm in having not asked the question.[2]

The Court’s decision on the first point hinged upon what the “relevant danger” was.[3] In this case, the wet floor was caused by an employee placing returned, wet goods into a shopping cart.  There was also evidence indicating that Randalls’ employees knew of the danger created thereby.  However, the Court emphasized that the relevant danger is not an antecedent event that produced the dangerous condition, but the actual dangerous condition at the time and place of the injury. Accordingly, although it appeared that Randalls had actual knowledge of the danger of placing wet goods into a shopping cart, such actual knowledge pertained only to an antecedent situation or event, and not the relevant danger that was the wet floor.

It is important for defense attorneys to ensure that plaintiff’s counsel is properly framing premise liability issues by discussing the relevant danger­­— the danger at the time and place of the injury— and not any antecedent situation. For liability to attach, a defendant’s knowledge must relate to the relevant danger, since knowledge of an antecedent danger is insufficient. Further, defense attorneys should remember that reversal of a judgment based on jury instructions is not available “unless the error probably caused the rendition of an improper judgment,” meaning that bifurcated jury instructions regarding constructive and actual knowledge are not always harmful or reversible error.


[1] Albertsons, LLC v. Mohammadi, No. 23-0041, 67 Tex. Sup. Ct. J. 514, 2024 Tex. LEXIS 253 (Apr. 5, 2024)

[2] Id. at *8

[3] Id.


FindLaw Network