On March 3, 2014, in a 7-0 decision, the Georgia Supreme Court unanimously refused to hear Kroger’s appeal of a $2.79 million verdict from a Gwinnett County jury. The Supreme Court’s refusal to hear the case allows the Georgia Court of Appeals’ decision affirming the verdict to stand. According to CaseMetrix.com, the $2.79 million verdict was the largest verdict in Georgia history against a grocery store for a slip and fall.
The jury returned its verdict on August 10, 2012. Years before, a woman and her husband had been shopping at Kroger with their young daughter. Kroger permitted water to stand in the floral department near a refrigerated cooler filled with cut flowers.
Kroger produced no evidence that they inspected the floors on the date of the fall. Kroger also alleged that the video cameras were not working due to a “power surge” in the area. While the alleged “power surge” purportedly knocked out the cameras, the power surge apparently did not affect the lighting or refrigeration units in the store. Also, there was no evidence of any power surge affecting the security cameras for the bank that operated within the store. Finally, Kroger never produced any evidence that any employee had requested repairs of the cameras.
The undisputed testimony at trial was that Kroger chose not to put down mats or to use warning signs even though there was testimony that the floor in that area was frequently wet. A Kroger employee testified that she often avoided the area because it was wet and slippery.
An employee who witnessed the fall testified that she called a manager as soon as it happened. However, the manager denied knowing about the fall until two days later.
As a result of the fall, the client badly injured her wrist. She was later diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS). CRPS occurs after a nerve injury where the injured part of the body continues to swell, tingle, and send pain signals to the central nervous system long after a traditional injury would have healed. Often, the pain, swelling, and redness also migrates to other places in the body. (For more information on Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, click here).
There is no cure for CRPS. People who have CRPS frequently face a lifetime of significant, constant pain. Often, these people seek out experimental treatments such as surgery to implant a spinal stimulator in order to reset the pain signals coming from the injury. Other experimental treatments involve a medically-induced coma by using the drug Ketamine. As with the spinal stimulator, the goal is to re-set the pain signals.
Experts testified that the plaintiff would have at least $1.7 million in medical bills and lost wages over the rest of her life. At the time of the trial, she had been living with constant pain for over four years.
Lead attorney, Michael Neff commented, “We are thankful for the jury’s service and their respect for the damages caused to our client. Corporate responsibility for safety is important, and companies need to be held accountable for choosing not to follow safety rules. Shortcuts on safety are never the right thing to do.”
At the The Law Offices of Michael L. Neff, we are tireless in seeking justice for the seriously injured. Call us today for a free consultation: 404-531-9700.