On August 10, 2012 a Gwinnett County Jury compensated a woman and her family a record $2,790,000 as a result of a fall in a Kroger store in Fayetteville, Georgia. The $2.79 million verdict was the largest verdict against a grocery store for a fall case in Georgia history, according to CaseMetrix.
The fall occurred on the evening of June 7, 2008 as the woman was walking through the floral department at Kroger Store #490. The store had allowed a puddle of clear liquid to accumulate on its white floor, near a refrigerated cooler filled with cut flowers in water. The woman badly injured her right wrist and developed Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS).
CRPS frequently occurs after an injury that normally doesn’t produce a long term serious pain – like a sprained ankle. Many doctors believe that a person’s reaction to the injury triggers a nerve injury or nervous system response that causes serious pain signals to be sent even when the original injury (the sprained ankle) has healed. Thus, the affected body part sometimes continues to swell, and the pain often migrates to other parts of the body. The pain frequently increases in intensity with the passage of time. (For more information on Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, click here).
Currently, there is no cure for CRPS. Often, doctors proscribe narcotics to help victims deal with the constant pain. Some experimental treatments exist such as implanting a spinal stimulator in the victim in an attempt to short circuit the pain signals. Another experimental treatment involves using the drug Ketamine to induce a coma in an attempt to re-boot the body’s central nervous system. However, these experimental treatments have not yet cured CRPS.
The Gwinnett County jury rendered its verdict after a week of trial and hearing testimony from a neurologist, a vocational counselor, an economist, and a safety expert. Kroger maintained that it was not responsible for the fall even though its sweep log for the day of the fall was blank and no one testified that they had inspected the floor the entire day.
Kroger also maintained that the store’s video camera system was not working on the day of the fall. The store contented that “power surges” caused the cameras to be out on the day of the incident. However, Kroger never produced any evidence that the video system was not working. In investigating the fall, Kroger failed to follow its own protocols for accident investigation. Thus, there were no pictures or witness statements divulged during the litigation.
Two former Kroger employees testified for the Plaintiff. The first testified that the floral department was known to be slippery and dangerous and that she did not receive Kroger’s required safety training. The second testified that she had called a manager immediately after the Plaintiff fell, which is protocol according to Kroger’s rules. However, the manager did not fill out an incident report until two days later.
The Plaintiff was 27 at the time of the fall. Experts testified to at least $1.7 million in lost wages and future medical bills over the course of her remaining lifetime as a result of the fall. The verdict also included amounts for past and future pain and suffering as well as her husband’s loss of consortium claim.
At the Law Offices of Michael L. Neff, we are tireless in seeking justice for the seriously injured.