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Watch Pallet Placement
by Ron Davis
An injury a shopper suffered while on a visit to a Tennessee retail store illustrates how blame can easily pass to retail merchants.
The injury occurred while the shopper was visiting an Aldi store. As she reached the frozen-food section, she stopped, apparently spotting some food items that she found interesting.
Aldi personnel had arranged several wooden pallets and boxes end-to-end on a portion of the center aisle. On the pallet nearest the shopper were five or six boxes on top of one another. Each of the boxes measured about 3-feet by 3-feet and several inches thick.
The shopper pushed her shopping cart forward to enable her to open one of the frozen glass doors to remove a package of a selected food item. The space between the side of the aisle and the edge of the center aisle was approximately three feet.
She then opened the door, which extended about two feet into the aisle. While holding the door open with her body, she bent forward, removing one bag of the items she had chosen. She then stood erect for several seconds before reaching back into the frozen-items compartment to remove another package of selected food.
Next, she stepped backward. When she did so, however, her foot hit part of the center-aisle display and she fell backwards into the display, causing several of the boxes to fall. The shopper landed on her rear end atop two of the boxes that remained on a wooden pallet.
Her ordeal wasn’t over, however. She apparently twisted her foot during the incident, causing her to fall a second time. This time, she later said, she fell to the floor, suffering various bodily injuries.
She sued Aldi, charging that the company failed “a duty of care” owed her. In fact, under Tennessee law, a shopper can “recover damages” caused by a company failure to provide a safe environment. But the damages are reduced in proportion to the percentage of the total negligence attributable to the plaintiff.
Aldi responded that “reasonable minds” could differ and that the shopper was more than 50% at fault for any injuries caused by her fall, including her being distracted by merchandise when she fell.
Aldi’s argument, however, was rejected.
(Linda McDavid, plaintiff v. Aldi, Inc., Jane/John Doe 2 Defendants, No.2.16-cv-0299-SHM-cgc)
Decision: July 2017
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