Retail Expert Witness Discusses Customer’s Ladder Accident


This case involves a thirty-seven-year-old male who was injured at a large retail store after falling from a ladder and being crushed by a television. The plaintiff visited the large retail store in search of a new television to place in his family room. After browsing the selection of televisions the store had to offer, the plaintiff decided he wanted to buy a large, sixty-five inch, flat screen TV. The sixty-five inch TVs were kept high on a shelf, fourteen feet in the air. With no store employee in sight, the plaintiff decided he would get the television himself instead of asking a worker to get it for him. Located down the aisle was a tall rolling ladder, which was used by store employees to reach products that were placed on higher shelves. Unbeknownst to the plaintiff, these ladders were meant to be used only by store employees. There was no labeling on the ladder or on the shelves that stated they were only to be used by employees. While climbing up the ladder and attempting to grab for the TV, the plaintiff lost his balance and fell thirteen feet. While falling, the man reached out in an attempt to grab something to secure himself. He grabbed a hold of a large sixty-five inch television, which came toppling to the floor with him. As a result of his fall, the man sustained multiple cracked vertebrae from landing on the concrete floor, and fractured ribs after the television landed on top of him.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Should there be labeling on the ladder and on the shelves?

Expert Witness Response

As is often the case, store equipment can be dangerous when not used properly and with extreme caution. Stores are responsible for the health and safety of their patrons while they are shopping. Therefore, the store must warn their customers of any possible dangers that exist. In this case, it seems that labeling the ladder as unsafe to use without proper training was necessary. Furthermore, the ladder probably should have been specified as off-limits to all non-employees. These are safety measures the store should have taken since it is a common safety practice throughout the industry. Also, how the televisions were secured on the shelves is critical to determine whether adequate safety procedures were in place, overall. Given the dangers inherent in large retail stores, there likely should have been a label on the shelves, indicating that customers should ask for assistance when reaching for higher objects, and a sign indicating that the ladder was only for employees. I have over forty-three years of experience in the retail industry, with thirty-seven years of experience at a large retail store, and six years of experience as a retail safety consultant.

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