This case involves a trip-and-fall at a convenience store in Washington. On the date of the incident in question, the plaintiff was shopping in the defendant store using a small shopping cart. The plaintiff rounded a corner around an open refrigerator case when she suddenly tripped over a piece of the case that had been protruding into the aisle, causing her to lose her balance and fall. As a result of the fall the woman suffered a number of serious head injuries, as well as brain damage that has prevented her from returning to work.
Question(s) For Expert Witness
- 1. Please briefly describe your experience with grocery store safety.
- 2. Can you speak specifically to any standards or best practices as it relates to refrigeration displays?
Expert Witness Response E-004539
I am very qualified and never disqualified in one 65 retail cases in four years. I have served as an expert retail witness in Supermarket cases for the plaintiff involving Slip and Fall, Display design malfunctions and product display presentation. With two degrees in Architecture, and over 35 years of practical Store Design including supermarket venues, I am able to comment and evaluate the very items you suggest could not be per Industry Standard and manufacturing best practice. In addition, I currently serve as one of twelve store planners serving the American Display Industry Organization on the Creative Design Committee. It sounds like an afterthought as most reputable refrigerated case manufacturers have a proven safe way to protect the lower end corner of a case. I do not understand why the guard would “stand-off” from the unit, unless there was some glass that could be hit by a shopping cart. Otherwise, there is no reason to have what sounds like a makeshift hazardous to be utilized. Lastly, it is a common practice to “break” all metal edges to eliminate metal spurs, or razor sharp edges to interact with a customer. I have designed over 50 million dollars of displays and oversaw the installation and manufacturing stages and can speak to my experience to address similar conditions which I have encountered over my career of hands-on design, supervision of installations and manufacturing.
Expert Witness Response E-009330
I have extensive experience in the direct management and supervision of Convenience Store Facility operations and Safety. There are basic procedures and things to look for with regard to tripping hazards due to improper floor placement of displays, particularly ones that are low to the ground. Standards of operation can be found in industry training videos published by NACS (National Association of Convenience Stores) and safety training documents published by large C-Store retailers.