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Ong v. Pacific Finance Corp. of California

Supreme Court of Arizona

October 9, 1950

ONG et al.
v.
PACIFIC FINANCE CORP. OF CALIFORNIA et al

Judgment affirmed.

Richard H. Chambers, of Tucson, for appellants.

Darnell, Robertson & Holesapple of Tucson, for appellees.

Phelps, Justice. La Prade, C. J., and Udall, Stanford and De Concini, JJ., concur.

OPINION

Phelps, Justice.

Page 802

[70 Ariz. 427] The facts in this case are that the Pacific Finance Corporation of California (hereinafter called the company) is a small loan concern engaged in business at 53 East Broadway, Tucson. Its office is located on the ground floor and occupies a space of approximately 30 X 65 feet. There is a counter in the office 8 to 10 feet south of the front door. This counter is 30 inches wide and extends about 15 feet from the west wall of the office. At the east end of the counter a railing extends south almost to the south wall completing the office enclosure. Appellee E. H. Taylor is manager of the Loan Department of the company and is lessee of the premises occupied by it.

At the entrance to the office a cement ramp has been constructed extending one and a half to two feet out on the sidewalk with an incline of about 25 degrees. This ramp is covered with a rubber matting. The ramp was evidently constructed to take care of a slight elevation of the office floor above the sidewalk. The floor of the entire office is covered with rubberized linoleum. This rubberized linoleum is treated with Johnson's paste wax every month or six weeks. It is put on by a rotary machine made for the purpose of waxing floors. At other times only a broom or push broom is used by the janitor in taking care of the floor. He uses no sweeping compound of any kind. Neither does he use any water.

The appellant is a young Chinese woman in her late 20's weighing 170 to 180 pounds.

On Saturday March 22, 1947 at the request of the company appellant went to its office just before it closed at noon to take care of a past due installment on a small note she had executed in its favor.

There are two windows on the front counter of the office where these payments are received and it was to one of these windows that appellant was proceeding when she fell and injured her left knee. She testified she opened the front door and stepped inside. She is sure she did not fall when she took her first step, and believes it was the second or third step that she fell or it might have been the fourth step; that she fell on her right side and that her head was near the first customer window; that she felt a slippery substance [70 Ariz. 428] either water or wet wax (under her feet); she did not see either water or wet wax at the point on the floor where she fell but did see a substance near the window like water. She then said: "There was little puddles of water there." There is nothing definite in the record indicating how far these puddles of water were on the floor from where appellant slipped and fell. The floor had been waxed approximately a week before the date appellant fell and the manager stated that the wax film would wear off in three days after its application. The traffic on the floor at this particular point where plaintiff fell was heavy and especially on Saturdays when fifty to seventy-five persons were waited on by the different departments during the morning, 65% to 75% of whom were waited on at one of these two windows, thus necessitating the use of the floor space between the front door and one or the other of the two customer windows on the front counter.

At the close of the case on motion of the defendants the trial court instructed a verdict for the defendants. From this order and from the judgment entered thereon and from the order denying a motion for a new trial an appeal is prosecuted to this court.

Appellant assigns as error:

1. The trial court erred in directing a verdict and entering a judgment thereon in favor of the defendants for the reason that there was sufficient evidence in the record from which a jury could reasonably have found defendants guilty of negligence and consequent injury therefrom.

2. That the trial court erred in denying plaintiff's motion for a new trial for the same reasons.

3. The trial court erred in refusing to permit plaintiff to make a demonstration of Johnson's wax ...


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