Retail safety expert witness advises on shopper’s injury from dislodged fire extinguisher

Kristin Casler

Written by
— Updated on May 16, 2016

Retail safety expert witness - fire extinguisherExpert witnesses in retail safety and fire causation safety advise on a case involving a shopper who suffered an injury when her shopping cart dislodged a fire extinguisher. The plaintiff was shopping at a large retailer with her daughter and granddaughter. The baby was in her car seat, which was attached to the shopping cart the plaintiff was pushing. Because the child blocked her view, the plaintiff did not see the fire extinguisher mounted on a post in the center of the aisle. She struck the 75-pound extinguisher with the cart, and the extinguisher fell, hitting her foot and causing serious injuries.

Plaintiff alleges in her negligence lawsuit that the fire extinguisher was improperly secured.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. What codes apply to fire extinguisher safety?
  • 2. Were they violated?
  • 3. What were the store’s obligations?

Expert Witness Response

The store failed to comply with building codes and fire codes by improperly and unsafely mounting the fire extinguisher. If it were properly and safely mounted, as described in the codes, it would have withstood the impact of the cart and would not have fallen on her foot. The store either knew or should have known that a safety violation existed.

The store failed to provide mounting brackets to adequately support the load of the fire extinguisher, even though these brackets are readily available at reasonable cost and are provided at other locations owned by the retailer.

The store failed to prove safety devices, such as a rubber ring for the bottom of the extinguisher, even though these devices are available at a reasonable cost and are on extinguishers in other stores owned by the retailer. The rubber ring would have provided a measure of safety upon impact.

The store failed to provide any warnings that a fire extinguisher was in a path of travel. The store should have known that an additional warning would have provided a safer environment.

The store did not use reasonable care to prevent hazards, did not maintain the location in a reasonably safe condition. The store should have known that these measures would have contributed to the safety of the patrons in the store and that these safety components are dictated by code and by industry standards.

The store should have known that the danger was open and obvious. The danger and the store’s negligence in failing to warn of this danger was a direct cause of the plaintiff’s injuries.

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