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Wilson v. Northwest Texas Healthcare System, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Texas, Seventh District, Amarillo

May 29, 2019

STERLING WILSON AND MARY WILSON, APPELLANTS
v.
NORTHWEST TEXAS HEALTHCARE SYSTEM, INC., APPELLEE

          On Appeal from the 181st District Court Potter County, Texas Trial Court No. 105, 905-B, Honorable John B. Board, Presiding

          Before CAMPBELL and PIRTLE and PARKER, JJ.

          OPINION

          Judy C. Parker Justice.

         Sterling and Mary Wilson, appellants, sued Northwest Texas Healthcare System, Inc., appellee, for injuries suffered by Sterling Wilson ("Wilson") arising from a slip and fall. Appellants appeal the trial court's granting of summary judgment in favor of Northwest. We affirm.

         Background

         In September of 2016, Wilson went to Northwest Texas Hospital to visit his wife, Mary, a patient in the hospital. As Wilson approached a hospital elevator, he encountered Jerry Hill, a floor technician. Hill was in the process of taking a floor buffing machine to a fellow staff member located in another area of the hospital. Wilson saw the floor cleaning machine when he walked into the hallway, and recalled it was big and gray. According to Wilson, the floor cleaning machine is taller than a table and at least the width of an adult's body. The machine was partially blocking the hallway in front of the elevator. Hill immediately stopped pushing the machine when Wilson caught his attention. As Wilson headed to the elevator, he fell when he attempted to go between the machine and the wall. The machine was not running and was not in use at the time of Wilson's fall.

         Wilson testified he slipped on water that was on the floor. He did not know how long the water had been on the floor, only that he fell on it. Hill testified that part of his job responsibility was to make sure the floor was clean and check it for any spills. On the day in question, Hill had drained the floor cleaning machine, checked to make sure the machine was dry, and was pushing the machine through the hallway to take it to another floor technician when he encountered Wilson. Hill saw no spills on the floor and testified he did not believe the floor was wet. In addition, Hill inspected the floor after Wilson's fall and did not see anything wet on the floor. Hill further testified the floor would not have been wet from any cleaning, because that area of the floor had not yet been cleaned.

         Appellants sued Northwest for negligence, premises liability, and gross negligence.[1] In the third amended petition, appellants alleged Wilson was injured "as a result of a dangerous condition in that [Northwest] had a floor cleaning machine in the doorway of the hall, in front of the elevators" and because of liquid on the floor. Northwest filed a traditional and no-evidence motion for summary judgment. In its traditional motion for summary judgment, Northwest asserts that appellants' negligence claim is barred as a matter of law, and that, on the premises liability claim, Northwest did not have actual notice of any dangerous condition and did not owe or breach any duty to Wilson. In its no-evidence motion, Northwest asserts there is no evidence that: (1) a dangerous condition existed on Northwest's premises, (2) Northwest was aware or should have been aware of the allegedly dangerous condition, (3) Wilson was not aware of the condition, and (4) the alleged condition proximately caused the accident and/or appellants' damages. The trial court granted the motion for summary judgment without specifying the grounds, and appellants appeal.

         Standard of Review

         We review the trial court's decision to grant summary judgment de novo. Cantey Hanger, LLP v. Byrd, 467 S.W.3d 477, 481 (Tex. 2015). In our review, we take as true all evidence favorable to the nonmovant, and we indulge every reasonable inference and resolve any doubts in the nonmovant's favor. Valence Operating Co. v. Dorsett, 164 S.W.3d 656, 661 (Tex. 2005). A trial court properly grants a motion for summary judgment when the movant has established that there are no genuine issues of material fact and that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Provident Life & Accident Ins. Co. v. Knott, 128 S.W.3d 211, 215-16 (Tex. 2003). When the trial court does not specify the grounds for its summary judgment, the appellate court must affirm the summary judgment if any of the theories presented to the trial court and preserved for appellate review are meritorious. Id. at 216.

         In reviewing a no-evidence summary judgment, we must consider all the evidence "in the light most favorable to the party against whom the summary judgment was rendered, crediting evidence favorable to that party if reasonable jurors could and disregarding contrary evidence unless reasonable jurors could not." Gonzalez v. Ramirez, 463 S.W.3d 499, 504 (Tex. 2015) (per curiam) quoting Mack Trucks, Inc. v. Tamez, 306 S.W.3d 572, 582 (Tex. 2006); City of Keller v. Wilson, 168 S.W.3d 802, 827 (Tex. 2005). We will affirm a no-evidence summary judgment if the record shows one of the following: (1) there is no evidence on the challenged element, (2) the evidence offered to prove the challenged element is no more than a scintilla, (3) the evidence establishes the opposite of the challenged element, or (4) the court is barred by law or the rules of evidence from considering the only evidence offered to prove the challenged element. Merriman v. XTO Energy, Inc., 407 S.W.3d 244, 248 (Tex. 2013); City of Keller, 168 S.W.3d at 810.

         Analysis

         Motion to compel hearing

         In the first issue, appellants contend "reversible error arises from improper venue."[2]We construe appellants' issue to complain of the trial court's conducting a hearing on Northwest's motions to compel discovery in Randall ...


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