This case involves a man who was injured while painting the walls of a self-described “sustainable urban lifestyle” retail store. He and his company had been hired as a sub-contractor to paint the store, which was undergoing extensive renovations to install solar panels and make the entire retail operation energy independent. While painting the store, several of the steel shelving units collapsed on the man. It is alleged that when these shelves were moved by employees of the retail store or other contractors, they were never inspected to ensure adequate safety and lock-in mechanisms. The shelves were not properly fastened and when they collapsed on the painter they caused significant injury. The plaintiff requires an expert who has formerly served as a manager or safety manager of a large, big box retail store.
Question(s) For Expert Witness
- 1. As a retail store manager / safety manager, is there an obligation to ensure the safety of painters who will be painting walls that are adjacent to large, steel shelving units?
- 2. Furthermore, if you're aware that the shelving units have been moved, is there an obligation to ensure that they're properly fastened and secured prior to allowing a painter to work in the proximity of the shelving units?
- 3. Have you ever served as an expert witness on a claim similar to the one described above?
- 4. Have any of the stores you've worked in ever been sued due to an injury sustained by a customer, employee or vendor - in a similar fashion - involving a collapsing steel shelving unit?
Expert Witness Response E-008923
It appears that the liability lies with the retail store when it comes to ensuring that the large shelving units are safe to be moved (especially if they were moved by employees). Any modification of these shelving units is the responsibility of the store, not the hired third party, if not previously agreed upon. I have served as an expert and have extensive first hand experience on retail/big box safety and material handling cases. I recently served on a case with a collapsed display in a big box store. I have reviewed hundreds of big box retail locations and warehouses for safety and materials handling purposes.I have never been liable for a collapsed steel shelving unit.