Shopping Cart Injury Results in $1.3 Million Jury Award
Gregg Hollander | October 19, 2016 | Premise Liability
There has been much news lately about defective or dangerous products that may cause injury – Exploding airbags. Exploding phones. Exploding hoverboards. These concerns are legitimate, but the products that cause the most injuries are those that are seemingly much more benign. Take shopping carts, for example.
A study published by researchers from Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio reports some 24,000 children are injured annually as a result of shopping carts. That’s 66 children every single day treated in hospital emergency rooms in the U.S. for injuries related to shopping carts. From 1990 through 2011, researchers tallied nearly 531,000 children suffering shopping cart injuries – many severe, including head injuries caused by falling from the cart. This was even after the shopping cart industry passed voluntary safety standards in 2004.
But it appears children aren’t the only victims. A Northeast Ohio woman recently won her personal injury lawsuit – and was awarded $1.3 million – for injury caused when she was mowed over by a motorized shopping cart, operated by a fellow customer.
According to The Cleveland Plain Dealer, plaintiff was 71 in December 2012 when she went to her local grocery store. Another customer was operating a motorized shopping cart to get around the store when she lost control of the cart. In so doing, she struck the plaintiff, tossing her about four feet into a nearby display shelf. Plaintiff struck her head on the display and in turn suffered head and neck injuries.
Although a case like this might have centered on the cart itself, plaintiff opined it was not that the cart was defective or unreasonably dangerous. Rather, the store failed in its duty to customers by not making sure those who were entrusted to operate these motorized carts had an adequate level of training in how to use them safely.
What undoubtedly bolstered plaintiff’s injury lawsuit is the fact the grocery store chain has a history of corporate negligence when it comes to customers’ use of these carts inside the stores. Attorneys for plaintiff presented evidence at trial that showed nearly 120 accidents involving these motorized carts over the course of nine years. Granted, that is across the entire corporation, but it demonstrates the fact that corporate leaders either knew this was an issue or should have known it was an issue and failed to address it. This was a foreseeable risk and an injury that didn’t need to happen. One of the claims in the lawsuit was specifically for negligent entrustment.
Attorneys for the store denied all claims, and it’s possible the chain will appeal the verdict, which included $120,000 in compensatory damages and $1.2 million in punitive damages.
Although this case involves an adult injury, most shopping cart accidents involve children younger than four. The majority of injuries result from:
- Falls out of the cart
- Running into/ falling over the cart
- Cart tip-over
- Entrapment of extremities in cart
The most common body region to suffer injury: Head.
Researchers with the Nationwide Children’s Hospital concluded that the current voluntary safety standards for shopping carts are inadequate and need to be revisited and improved. Perhaps it wouldn’t be a bad idea to review the safety of motorized carts while they’re at it.
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Cleveland woman wins $1.3 million lawsuit against Giant Eagle for motorized shopping cart injury, Oct. 7, 2016, By John Harper, Cleveland.com
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