Is the Bank Liable for the Janitor’s Negligence?

Mark’s Scenario

Mark sued a bank for injuries. He was not paying attention as he entered the bank because he was looking at his phone. And he fell suffering $10,000 in injuries. Prior to the fall, the janitor had buffed the floor. The janitor had an IQ of 70. Normally, the janitor was closely supervised. However, today his manager was extremely tired, and the manager didn’t notice that the janitor had carelessly used way too much floor wax that was extremely slippery. Is the bank liable for the janitor’s negligence? Be sure to go through all the elements. Additionally, note that under the doctrine of respondeat superior the bank WILL be liable for any potential negligence of the janitor employee

Case analysis

In order to determine whether bank was liable for the janitor’s negligence, it is important to analyse previous negligence cases to establish the requisite elements needed to file the case in the court of law. Since the client is seeking advice from a professional, it is important to consider several way of presenting evidence and testimony.

  • First, Mark entered the bank while concentrating on the phone and since the janitor had used way too much floor wax, the floor became extremely slippery thus making Mark to slipped and suffered $10,000 in injuries.
  • Bank manager knew that janitor had IQ of 70 and needed close supervision during cleaning process, but since the manager was extremely tired, he/she didn’t noticed that janitor had used excess floor wax.  

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Under civil and common law governing banks, the customers does not have to worry about the slipper floor since they are invitees to the bank, this means banks has invited customers to come for banking services in the bank. It is the responsibility of the bank which is the occupier to guarantee the safety of the customers. If the customer slip and fall over in one of the aisle because of the obstruction, spillage or slippery floors due to negligence of the workers and the customer sustained injury, bank can be held liable to the damages and injuries sustained by the customer. Numerous cases have demonstrated the ruling related to the previous ‘slip and fall cases’. Some of the examples include Australian Safeway stores v. Zaluzna (1987) 167 CLR 479 and Romeo v. Conservation Commission of the Northern Territory (1998) 192CLR 431.

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In the case involving Perre v. Apand Pty Limited (1999) HCA 36, presiding judge Justice McHugh of the High Court stated that “negligence at common law is still a fault-based system” and the “tort law is an instrument of corrective justice”. The statement describes the stances of the negligence law. One of the cases that highlighted negligence issues includes Swain v. Waverley Municipal Council (2005) HCA 4. In the proceedings, Swain went surfing and diving at Bondi Beach, in the process; Swain sustained injury and become a quadriplegic. The jury ruled that it was the responsibility of the Waverley Municipal Council to guarantee the safety of the beach goers. These include safety care, management and control of the beach, thus Swain won the case and was compensated for the damages sustained. However, Council went ahead and appealed the ruling in the High Court and succeeded. The Court of Appeal judge found that no reasonable magistrate could find evidence of negligence in the case. Nonetheless, compensation fees were sustained since the Court of Appeal judges where only requested to determine whether the magistrate found reasonable evidence to rule that Council acted negligently.

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Clear analysis on the incident that lead to the accident, partly bank and Mark are responsible and liable to their actions. First, Mark was concentrating on the phone while walking thus slipped and suffered $10,000 in injuries. If he had concentrated and looked on where he was heading, the incident could have been avoided. In the other hand, bank manager should not have left the janitor unsupervised considering the mental status. Also, bank manager should have ensured the floors are kept clean and the excess floor wax was removed all the time. With the descriptions provided, the incidence could have been avoided if both partners had played their roles well. Nonetheless Mark has a strong case and has a right to demand for the compensation from the bank.

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