Retail Expert Witness Opines on Falling Merchandise Case


retail expert witnesThis case involves a personal injury claim against a large retail store due to merchandise falling on a customer. The plaintiff was browsing the paint section of a retail store. The store had numerous shelves, each sitting five feet above the previous shelf. The plaintiff went to remove his selected can of paint from the shelf, but the slight movement triggered an unrestrained box of paint cans to fall from a shelf fifteen feet above the sales floor onto the plaintiff. Subsequently, the plaintiff sustained multiple lacerations, a broken clavicle, and an injured spine, which required surgery.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. How should large items be secured at a retail warehouse store?

Expert Witness Response

Storing merchandise on the sales floor above eye level is very common in warehouse retail stores, as it is more efficient and less expensive than having an off-site storage area. High stacking, however, forces customers to stretch or use a ladder to handle merchandise and poses a threat when done carelessly. Common employee mistakes range from positioning heavy merchandise precariously on shelves to stacking merchandise in an unstable manner by leaving heavy boxes stacked on top of lighter boxes. In most circumstances, warehouse retailers use physical-restraining safety devices such as security bars, fencing, and safety ties on highly stacked merchandise to curb danger. Also, warnings signs are posted, indicating the possible risks that the high shelving may create. Additionally, employees should continuously survey and monitor the different areas of the store to ensure that no safety risks were created by other customers/ employees moving items during the workday. I have over nineteen years of experience in retail warehouses, specifically concerning safety measures for customers.

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