Broken ice bags cause wet floor; ice machine placement in the store leads to claim of negligence.
- Case Name: Taylor v. Dolgen California, LLC
- Court and Case Number: Stanislaus County / CV-19-003441
- Date of Verdict or Judgment: Wednesday, October 12, 2022
- Date Action was Filed: Tuesday, June 18, 2019
- Type of Case: Slip and Fall
- Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Sonny Sandhu
Plaintiffs: Linda Taylor, 63
Defendants: Dolgen California, LLC
- Type of Result: Jury Verdict
- Gross Verdict or Award: $367,635.87
- Net Verdict or Award: $238,963.31
Award as to each Defendant:
- Contributory/Comparative Negligence: 35% to plaintiff
- Trial or Arbitration Time: 3 weeks
- Jury Deliberation Time: 2 days
- Post Trial Motions & Post-Verdict Settlements: Motion for cost of proof sanctions pending by plaintiff.
Attorney for the Plaintiff:
Tryk Law, PC by Benjamin Tryk, Fresno.
Narayan Law, PC by Santosh Narayan, Fresno.
Attorney for the Defendant:
Borton Petrini, LLP by Bradley Post, Modesto.
Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):
Benjamin Busfield, M.D., orthopedic surgery.
Jonathan Pettigrew, D.O., orthopedic surgery. (Treating physician.)
Defendant's Medical Expert(s):
Les Konkin, M.D., orthopedic surgery.
Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):
Zachary Moore, Ph.D., forensic safety engineering.
Defendant's Technical Expert(s):
Tate Kubose, Ph.D., human factors.
Alex Balian, retail standards and practices.
Facts and Background
Facts and Background:
Plaintiff walked into Dollar General on the 4th of July in 2017 to purchase makeup for a 4th of July celebration later that day. She walked through the front of the store and in between two warning cones while passing an ice machine, whereupon she slipped on a puddle of water. The water on the floor remained after a prior attempt to clean up a spilled ice bag.
Plaintiff fell and struck her left knee on the ground, causing a broken left patella. Plaintiff underwent a patella repair surgery performed by Jonathan Pettegrew, D.O., in Modesto.
That Dollar General knew of several prior instances when ice bags broke in front of the ice machine and they were on notice of an ongoing dangerous condition.
That defendant did nothing to remedy the dangerous condition and that the ice machine should have been moved to a safer location. Also, that after the ice bag broke onto the floor on the date of the incident, Dollar General failed to follow their own standard operating procedures, which would have prevented injury to plaintiff. Plaintiff further contended that the warning signs placed on the floor after the ice spill were ineffective warning devices as more than 20 people walked past them, bumped into them or appeared to ignore them altogether, including Dollar General's own employees.
That there was no water on the floor and if there was, the condition was open and obvious because of the two large yellow warning signs placed near the ice machine.
Defendant argued that they followed all of their standard operating procedures. Defendant's human factors expert contended that plaintiff saw the warning signs and purposefully ignored them. Defense retail expert testified that in his 40-plus years of experience as an expert in retail, he had never observed a person bump into a warning sign, including this case. Dollar General's surveillance video showed numerous patrons bumping into the warning signs.
Injuries and Other Damages
Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:
Left patella fracture with need for future knee replacement.
- Special Damages Claimed - Past Medical: Waived.
- Special Damages Claimed - Future Medical: $200,000
- Special Damages Claimed - Past Lost Earnings: None, plaintiff was retired.
- Special Damages Claimed - Future Lost Earnings: None, plaintiff was retired.
Demands and Offers
- Plaintiff §998 Demand: June 2021: $175,000
- Defendant §998 Offer: Dec. 2019: $1,001
- Defendant Final Offer before Trial: $75,000