Falling Merchandise in Hardware Store Causes Broken Foot

    falling merchandise expert witnessThis case involves a forty-year-old man that visited a “big box” hardware store in order to purchase supplies for building a tree house for his children. The man first visited the lumber section of the store in order to buy wood for the project. Security footage revealed that a previous customer had picked up a couple of two-by-tens, leaned them against the display and walked away. Fifteen minutes later, the plaintiff was browsing the lumber section when he grabbed a two-by-ten from the display. Unaware of the two pieces of lumber leaning against the display, the two pieces of wood fell over and landed on the customer’s right foot causing compound fractures of the first, second, and third metatarsal. The compound fracture ultimately required surgery. He was unable to bear weight on his injured foot for three months and was unable to return to work during that time.


    Question(s) For Expert Witness

    • 1. What are the store procedures for ensuring that heavy merchandise is properly secured?

    Expert Witness Response

    A store is responsible for making sure that all items are securely stocked and do not pose a danger to the customers. It’s a natural occurrence for customers to move products around in a retail environment but it is the responsibility of the store to promptly correct the positioning of these products. In this instance, the lumber was situated in an unsafe position for fifteen minutes prior to the accident. Additionally, these products were visible through the store’s surveillance system. I have over twenty years in the retail sector and over thirteen years as a manager of a multinational retail store. In my experience, fifteen minutes is more than an adequate amount of time to spot and correct the misplacement of a product. In a case like this, it is up to the store to implement proper safety procedures and to ensure that all employees are trained to recognize these scenarios.

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