Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Fall at Sam's Club Proven by Employee's Admission

Pennsylvania Walmart's are often sued for slip and fall negligence due to failing to keep its stores safe for patronsSam's Club is a branch of Walmart that is also often involved in Pennsylvania premises liability lawsuits.  Stores like Walmart and Sam's Club are inviting people onto their property for people to buy things for a profit.  Shoppers are considered by Pennsylvania law to be business invitees.  Businesses owe the highest duty of care to business invitees.  If they know about a dangerous condition that could harm a patron, they have to correct the condition or warns shoppers about it.  If Walmart or Sam's Club fails to do this then they are negligent and can be held liable for a patrons injuries due to the condition.  Just such a situation arose in the matter of Martinez v. Walmart and Sam's Club.  The plaintiff in this case was well represented by Pennsylvania attorney Johnathan Wheeler our of Philadelphia.

In Martinez, the plaintiff, a 50-year-old female at the time of injury, alleged that the defendant, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., specifically Sam's Club, negligently allowed a wet slippery condition to exist in the foyer of its store. As a result, the plaintiff claimed that she slipped and fell causing nerve and tendon injuries to her wrist. The defendant denied notice of the wet condition in its store and denied that the plaintiff's wrist condition was causally related to the fall.

The plaintiff testified that she was entering the defendant's "Sams Club" at the Franklin Mills Mall on a rainy, snowy day in March of 1994. The plaintiff testified that she slipped and fell in the foyer as a result of water under her feet. The plaintiff's fall was witnessed by a store employee who testified she asked the manager, approximately an hour prior to the plaintiff's fall, to put floor mats down near the front door because of the wet condition.

The plaintiff's hand/plastic surgeon testified that the plaintiff sustained a disruption of the nerves and tendons in her wrist as a result of the fall. The plaintiff testified that she was unable to work with her husband on the family lunch truck for approximately a year following the fall and that she returned to that employment only with difficulty. The defendant's orthopedic surgeon opined that the plaintiff's wrist condition was not the result of a single traumatic injury but stemmed from continued wear and tear over the plaintiff's lifetime. The jury found the defendant 100% negligent and awarded the plaintiff $ 35,000.

The key to this case was the testimony of the Walmart employee who stated that Walmart had been aware of the dangerous condition but had done nothing to fix the problem before the plaintiff's fall.  Had attorney Wheeler not obtained this important admission from the defendant I highly doubt the plaintiff would have been successful in this case.  Admissions from the defendant and proof of notice of the dangerous condition are key points in successfully establishing a premises liability lawsuit in Pennsylvania.

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