Defense Verdict at Jury Trial in New Castle County, Delaware, in Supermarket Trip and Fall Case
By Richard Abrams:
(WILMINGTON, DELAWARE FEBRUARY 18, 2013) MSZLM attorney Richard Abrams obtained a defense verdict in favor of his client ShopRite Supermarkets. The case was tried in Wilmington Delaware before Judge Paul Wallace, who was appointed to the bench earlier this month.
In the case, Anita D’Orazio v. ShopRite Supermarkets, plaintiff, a 74 year old woman, had entered ShopRite’s produce department as part of a routine shopping trip. As she attempted to select some lemons, a produce clerk standing in front of the lemons suggested to plaintiff that she walk to the promotional lemon display in the front of the department, because the lemons in the non-promotional display were “soft.” Plaintiff turned around to proceed to the promotional display and immediately tripped over a “U-Boat” (large grocery cart with a low shelf and high arms on the end for pulling and pushing the cart.) Plaintiff maintained that as she approached the lemons, she never saw the cart. ShopRite contended that there was no way plaintiff could have been so close to the U-Boat so as to trip over it, simply by turning around and not even taking a step. Plaintiff sustained serious personal injuries including back injuries that necessitated plaintiff to have an additional fusion operation to her low back. That was the most significant injury. Special damages were in the range of $250,000.00.
Through discovery, it was determined that plaintiff’s original injury to her spine from a prior accident, was not further injured in the fall at ShopRite. Rather, defendant’s expert contended that the subsequent surgery was inevitable and was the result of the natural progression of her long standing back problems. Plaintiff had been complaining of increasing severe back pain in the weeks and months leading up to her fall on April 19, 2009.
It was further discovered that plaintiff suffered from Adult Attention Deficit Disorder and was a terrible historian with respect to her past and present medical condition as well as the facts leading up to and following the fall at ShopRite. While plaintiff was very nice and likable, she was just not able to help herself with her responses to questions.
Mr. Abrams brought to trial an exemplar U-Boat, which was identical to the one that plaintiff tripped over. The jury was able to examine the “hazard” up close and personal. The presence of the U-Boat with boxes stacked on one end was an extremely powerful and persuasive image that left a significant impression on the jurors. The jury returned a defense verdict within ten minutes.
No appeals are anticipated.