Trip on Mat in Store
Plaintiff, a long time manager at a well known home goods chain, was injured when she tripped on an old, curled up mat, which was being used by an independent company that was providing security within the store. The mat was under a chair at a desk that the security company was using. This posed a significant liability problem for plaintiff because a worker cannot sue her employer, and even though the security company used the chair every day, it was not the security company's chair, desk or mat. The company argued that therefore, it was the store's responsibility to keep the mat which was being used in its store in good condition.
Although the store could not be sued directly, it was brought into the case by the security company which had a contract with the store. Therefore, they could be held to pay as long as liability could be established against the security company, which was still no easy task.
Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin partner Bill Hepner was able to convince both parties that due to the injuries that the plaintiff had sustained and the arguments he intended to make at the upcoming trial, that the parties would significantly cut their risk by settling the case. A non-binding mediation was held in the case, and although the case did not settle at that time, continued follow up allowed a positive result.
Plaintiff, who was a 65 year old woman at the time of the accident, underwent a fusion surgery to her neck, and a diskectomy to her lower back. She had significant prior problems in both of these areas of her body, and was being treated right up until the time of the accident. We claimed the accident made her pre-existing condition worse. She was not able to return to work, and although she was 65, Bill was able to establish that she had planned to continue working.