Defense Verdict at Jury Trial in Middlesex County, in Supermarket Fall-down Case
By: Alexander Krasnitsky, Esquire
(NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ, October 19, 2012) MSZLM attorney Alexander Krasnitsky secured a defense verdict in favor of client Stop & Shop Supermarkets, following a week- long jury trial in a fall-down case in the Middlesex County Superior Court.
In the case, Virginia Lukacs v. Stop & Shop, plaintiff had been shopping at the store for approximately a half-hour. Upon exiting the store through a check-out aisle, plaintiff’s foot slipped on a plastic bag located on the floor of the aisle, causing plaintiff’s feet to give way from underneath her, and resulting in plaintiff falling onto her back. Plaintiff claimed injuries to her neck, back and both knees. In addition to physical therapy, plaintiff underwent surgery on one knee and received a recommendation for surgery on the second knee.
Discovery disclosed that plaintiff was involved in a prior accident in which she injured her neck, sustaining injuries to the same disc levels of her neck that plaintiff now claimed she injured in the fall giving rise to this litigation. Further discovery identified two notes by plaintiff’s doctor, made in the months leading up to the fall in the store, in which plaintiff complained of discomfort in her knees. Plaintiff’s treating doctors nonetheless related plaintiff’s injuries and treatment to the subject fall.
Discovery also identified a video of the fall, captured by an in-store surveillance camera. The very edge of the video’s frame showed plaintiff walking through the check-out aisle, stepping on the bag and moving it, or causing it to move, with her foot. The plaintiff then walked through the aisle without falling. A few seconds later, the video showed the plaintiff walking back into the aisle, again stepping on the bag, and this time slipping and falling.
Additional discovery identified a customer also shopping in the store that day. This customer later testified at trial that a few minutes before plaintiff’s fall in the check-out aisle, she overheard the plaintiff in a frozen food aisle yelling out “did you see that, I almost just fell there”, while pointing to clean and dry portion of the aisle floor.
At trial, Mr. Krasnitsky questioned the true cause of plaintiff’s fall, suggesting to the jury that the fall was staged. Furthermore, we disputed the cause of plaintiff’s injuries in light of her prior medical history. While plaintiff’s counsel had, up until the time of trial, asserted injuries to plaintiff’s knees, as well as her neck and back, at the start of trial he withdrew claims of neck and back injury.
A jury of six returned a defense verdict fully in favor of our client. No appeals have been filed.