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McDonald’s fast food outlet not liable for customer’s fall on wet ramp

A McDonald’s sign at a fast-food outlet. Picture: File

A McDonald’s sign at a fast-food outlet. Picture: File

Published Nov 24, 2022

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Pretoria - A Montana, north of Pretoria, woman who slipped and fell as she left McDonald’s in the Wingtip Crossing Shopping Centre has lost her damages claim against the owners of the fast food outlet.

Mandie Lombard turned to the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, after she fell outside the outlet in June 2019. She had just fetched her lunch.

She sued MSA Devco (Pty) Ltd, trading as McDonald’s Wingtip, for the injuries she suffered.

During the trial, video footage was admitted into evidence showing her slipping on the ramp leading to the outside. It showed how she fell, the moment when her right foot left the rubber carpet, which partially covered the ramp area, and when she stepped onto the tiled area.

According to Lombard, she slipped and fell on a wet black rubber carpet on the ramp area in front of the store’s entrance, which also served as its exit.

She said that the owner of the fast food outlet had a duty to warn the public that the floor was slippery and wet.

While the owner of this outlet said there was a clear exemption notice stating that the public entered the shop at their own risk, Lombard told the court that she certainly did not see this.

The outlet also admitted that it owed Lombard, as a visitor of the premises, a general duty of care to take all reasonable steps to ensure that the premises was generally safe. But the court was told that it had complied with the duty of care owed to her.

According to the owner of the outlet, the disclaimer notice at the entrance door clearly stipulated the terms and conditions set out before a member of the public entered the store. It was said that by fetching her food inside the outlet, Lombard thus agreed to the terms and she thus entered at her own risk. The disclaimer notice, among others, made it clear that McDonald’s would not be liable for any damages or loss incurred by people entering the premises.

Lombard testified that on the day of the incident she slipped and fell on the ramp after she had fetched her order. She said after she fell, she touched the rubber carpet and the tile and felt that they were both wet.

Three schoolchildren saw her fall and because she could not get up, they went into the restaurant and called for help. According to Lombard, an employee came outside and placed a “wet floor” sign on the ramp.

Acting Judge Livhuwani Vuma, who visited the scene of the fall, concluded that the disclaimer was in clear language and visible to all.

He rejected Lombard’s argument that the ramp leading in and out of the shop was not covered by the disclaimer. He said the ramp was clearly part of the business.

The judge said the disclaimer absolved the outlet of liability.

Pretoria News