A retail safety expert witness opines on a case involving a shopper who was struck in the face by a flooring display. The plaintiff was a customer at a large home goods retailer. She was in the floor covering section looking at laminate flooring remnants with a store employee. One of the large rolls of remnants fell forward, severely striking the plaintiff on the left side of the face and shoulder. She suffered cervical, thoracic and lumbar strain and severe headaches.
Question(s) For Expert Witness
- 1. Was the store negligent?
- 2. What was the standard of care?
- 3. How was it violated?
Expert Witness Response
The store was negligent because:
• The linoleum remnant was standing in the display fixture on its’ smallest and least stable dimension. It has been the standard of care in the home center industry for many years to use a securing bar or cable to prevent this type of accident. This store does not do so.
• Store employees were negligent for leaving the unstable vinyl remnant in the fixture causing injury to the plaintiff. This most likely occurred because, as one employee testified, the store does not have a zone recovery policy as is the standard of care in the retail industry. The employee said they go through the aisles and make sure everything is clean and tidy but there is no logging system or walk-around schedule.
• Testimony indicates that the company has neither corporate safety staff, store safety activities such as safety committees and inspection programs, nor any training in merchandising safety along with appropriate skill testing. The lack of these positions and programs falls below the standard of care in the home center store industry,
The store violated the retail Industry standard of care and the guidance contained in The National Safety Council Accident Prevention Manual sections regarding sales floor maintenance and display issues. Also, that negligence was a cause of the plaintiff’s injuries.
The expert had more than four decades of retail safety experience, is a nationally recognized expert in retail store and premises safety and holds leadership roles in national safety organizations.