Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

Customer seeks punitive damages for Pennsylvania Home Depot fall

Allegheny County store owners are temporarily relieved of the duty of clearing snow and ice from walkways. Some businesses may be breathing a sigh of relief that the winter season passed without a slip and fall claim. Store owners forget spring rains also can create dangerous, slippery conditions.

A Home Depot customer is taking the home improvement retailer to federal court. The plaintiff suffered injuries in September 2012, when she fell at the entrance to a Home Depot in a Philadelphia suburb. The premises liability claim alleges Clifton Heights store employees only acted to remove standing water after the woman fell.

The customer suffered neck pain, a broken pelvis and a herniated disc after slipping on standing water. The woman had rushed to the entrance from the parking lot to escape a drenching rain. Store employees are accused of neglecting to take care of the puddled water, which apparently accumulated during rainstorms throughout the day.

Store workers responded to the accident by mopping the slippery area, laying mats and putting up warning signs. The federal legal claim says the store's actions came too late to prevent the woman's fall and injuries, extensive and expensive medical treatment and wage losses. The plaintiff requested more than $150,000 in damages, including punitive damages to punish Home Depot and deter future negligence.

The complaint noted Home Depot sold products to remedy the water build-up but failed to use them until an injury occurred. The floor where the victim fell is a hard surface. When wet, the floor had the potential to cause debilitating, slip and fall injuries like head trauma.

Allegheny County businesses are required to make reasonable efforts to ensure visitor safety. Negligence and subsequent damages awards occur when retailers and other businesses fail to act promptly to prevent accidents. After-the-fact actions may save the next customer from getting hurt but does nothing to help one who is injured.

Source: Courthouse News Service, "Customer who sustained fractured sacrum, herniated disc during fall on wet floor sues Home Depot" Jon Campisi, Apr. 28, 2014

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Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.
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Pittsburgh, PA 15222

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