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john65pennington's avatar

Was the store at-fault?

Asked by john65pennington (29187points) February 19th, 2010

I use to work a part-time security job at a big, popular department store. they are now defunk. there was a big display of Bubble Blow on the corner of one aisle. apparently, some child had been blowing bubbles and left the top off of one bottle. someone unknown, hit the display of Bubble Blow with a shopping cart and the opened bottle of Bubble Blow fell on the tile floor of the store. this display was in an isolated section of the store. before the store had been notified of the hazardous situation, a customer came around the corner, slipped on the Bubble Blow and broke her knee cap. at first, you would think the store was liable. the court disagreed. the court stated that because of “upleading circumstances”, the store was not at-fault. i wonder how the court came to this decision?

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14 Answers

CyanoticWasp's avatar

Too much missing data. (Apart from the undefined term “upleading circumstances”. This sounds like another case of making another part of speech from a somewhat strained word to begin with: “uplead”?—> “upleading”? I can’t imagine what would have circumstanced a court to make up such a word.)

We don’t know who the child was or how old. That could have a bearing. (You also said “apparently”, so perhaps we’re just guessing that there was a child involved.)

We don’t know who knocked over the opened bottle, or whether that was even known by the person who did it. It seems to be stated as fact, so perhaps this was borne out in testimony. Who was the witness who said that? Relation to the victim?

We don’t know anything about the customer who “came around the corner”. Was it the original child? That child’s mother? The one who knocked over the bottle? We don’t know the circumstances of “coming around the corner”. Was running or other horseplay involved? What happened to cause a broken kneecap? (That suggests a fall, but that detail is conspicuously absent from the account.)

john65pennington's avatar

Hard to give all the facts in one paragraph. the victim was a heavy-set woman, not the child. she was not related to the unknown child. she was just a normal customer. evidence showed a plastic bubble-blower still wet on the display. unknown who knocked over the bottle of Bubble Blow. due to its isolated display in the store, it could have been on the floor for a short while, whithout being noticed. it was a clear color. no horseplay involved. the lady did fall and landed on her right kneecap, breaking it. no witnesses, only a lady screaming from a broken kneecap and her fall. victim was alone in the store shopping. i assume that upleading circumstance would be the time element involved for the store to be notified of the hazardous floor condition, before the fall occurred.

TheJoker's avatar

I must say, I would have expected this to be covered by the stores public liability insurance… I’m surprised the store contested this & that it ever came to court. Perhaps if they had a slightly more flexible attitude to their customers they’d still be operating now.

BoBo1946's avatar

The store was not at fault. Also, the person that hit the Bubble Blow, would not be at fault, unless, this person knew the Bubble Blow was hit and was open on the floor.

The store’s medical coverage would apply regardless of liability. The store would pay the medicals up to their limits, which in most cases, is $5000.

But, if this person obtains an attorney, most insurance company will compromise the claim (the liability aspect of the claim, not medicals), if there are no witnesses to the accident.

wilma's avatar

Why were they in court?
Did the store or their insurance co. pay for the medical expenses of the person who fell?
Was she trying to get rich as the result of her accident?

john65pennington's avatar

Even though the store won the case in court for not being at-fault. the store gave the victim $10,000, after signing a waiver. i was there when the incident occurred and followed the case to its entirety. this was a fair settlement, considenering her kneecap was crushed and had to be replaced.

davidbetterman's avatar

In the land of Torts, there is such a thing as foreseeability and proximate cause.

You should read the court case, Palsgraf vs Long island Railroad

BoBo1946's avatar

@john65pennington ummm..seems like the insurance company should have done that before going to court John. The store would have saved lots of money! On top of the settlement, they are out of court cost, their attorney’s fee, etc.

The attitude of the person, their injuries(and in this case, bad injury), etc are always taken into consideration regardless of liabilities by the adjuster. Also, the adjuster has to always take into consideration what the store want to do on the case.

Every case is so different.

There is a lot of case law on liability, but will not bore you with the details.

john65pennington's avatar

Bobo…...i agree. this is probably why the store went defunk. i knew this, but the store was determined that it was right. they made some really lousy decisions in that store chain.

BoBo1946's avatar

@john65pennington got’cha…have a good one John!

UScitizen's avatar

Your answer lies in vicarious liability, and more precisely in respondeat superior. A competent attorney could follow the many well worn paths to prove that the “store” (most likely a corporate entity) was negligent in not maintaining a safe environment for the customer.

BoBo1946's avatar

@UScitizen based on John’s comments, this was an isolated incident. To prove the store was negligent, an inspected of the store would be required. One accident in a store does mean the store is unsafe. If the adjuster’s investigation showed there was unsafe shelves, objects laying the isle, etc., the store could be found negligent. Also, the past accident history of the store would be important.

Liablity requires a lot of investigation. Some states have comparative negligence laws and some contributory negligence laws and this would affect the adjustor’s decision on the case. Also, statements from any witness would be important.

Bottomline, if the customer acquires an attorney, most insurance companies will compromise the liability to obtain a release on the file.

thriftymaid's avatar

The term means time to discover. However, if the claim was in negligence it’s a surprising victory for the store.

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