Atlanta, GA (PRWEB) June 17, 2010
A Georgia man was recently awarded a verdict of $400,000 by a jury in a slip and fall case against a Kroger store. (State Court of Fulton County, Georgia - Civil File No. 2008EV005981A) This is a record verdict in the state of Georgia for a premise case involving a Rotator cuff injury.
The incident occurred in February 2007, as the 52-year-old plaintiff Karey Chambers was shopping in a Kroger food store. Chambers slipped on a puddle of yogurt and sustained shoulder injuries. Cameras taping at the time of the injury failed to capture the fall, but they do record Chamber's shopping cart, of which he lost control. Cameras also show an employee who walked pass the spill several times prior to Chamber's injury.
Kroger does not deny that the incident occurred, but the defense claims that liability does not rest with the company, citing that "any injuries or damages allegedly sustained by the plaintiff were the direct and proximate result of a pure accident." According to the defense, Kroger has procedures in place that ensure spills are addressed and that employees are trained to handle spills appropriately.
Initially, the matter was addressed in mediation, with Kroger offering only $15,000 in settlement, some $370,000 away from the amount originally demanded by the plaintiff. No further offer was made. A three-day trial commenced January 27, 2010 before Fulton County State Court Judge Jay Roth, and Plaintiff Attorney Scott Monge, of Monge and Associates, commented "at the outset, during jury selection, Judge Roth noted that it looked like we had a tough jury pool with potential jurors saying things like, 'the customer is usually at fault.' We ultimately were able to strike some jurors for cause," Monge said, "but we still had great concerns about the panel."
On January 29, the jury awarded Chambers $400.000. "Based on our research of Georgia cases, we have been unable to find a verdict for any amount higher involving a rotator cuff tear or Kroger as a defendant," said Monge, who represented Chambers along with Todd R. Henningsen and Aaron L. Michelman, all of Monge and Associates.
The legal team of Monge and Associates argued that because an employee was present and did nothing to take care of the spill, Kroger is fully liable for the accident. According to Todd Henningsen, Chambers' attorney, "slip and fall cases can be very difficult to try. We had to prove what Kroger's liability was, and our team had to establish the burden of proof. We were able to obtain video surveillance, proving the employee was in the vicinity. This triggers constructive knowledge of the surroundings, which then triggers liability for Kroger." It is the responsibility of businesses to take all reasonable measures to ensure that their premises are safe.
This is a fairly large award for a slip and fall case in Georgia, but Henningsen says that amount is well deserved. Plaintiff Chambers suffered a rotator cuff tear to his right (dominant) shoulder. He underwent two surgeries, and his doctors diagnosed him with an 11% upper extremity permanent impairment. His medical bills totaled $58,000. Even though he has not worked since February of 2007, the plaintiff was only claiming two years of lost wages--a sum of $78,000.
"We have a very strong understanding of the challenges a plaintiff can face in a case of this nature," added Todd Henningsen. "In looking at the challenges involved in a slip and fall case, we were very thorough in preparing the best information to put forth to the jury. The trial is only 10% of the case. We took all the necessary steps and used the resources that we had to do the best job for our client. We had a very deserving client with a wonderful family who presented himself very well to the jury. He had friends and coworkers who came in and supported his work ethic."
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