Falling Merchandise

Fairfax Injury Lawyer Brien Roche Addresses Falling Merchandise Cases

Brien Roche

Falling merchandise in the so-called “big box” stores has been a problem ever since these stores opened. These stores operate on the premise that it is more efficient and less expensive to warehouse merchandise on the sales floor. The alternative is an off-site warehouse or a back room.  This high stacking of merchandise has produced many lawsuits.

Common Elements of Falling Merchandise Cases

There are several common elements of these claims:

  • The  high stacking of merchandise above eye level is seen throughout these types of stores.
  • The merchandise that is stacked above eye level is not subject to any physical restraint.
  • There is no warning of the potential danger to the customer.
  • Employees receive minimal training in terms of how to properly stack and how to remove items.
  • The merchandise can be caused to fall as a result of a number of things. For instance being stacked in an unstable manner, merchandise on a nearby shelf being moved and making contact with the falling merchandise. In addition there is stacking different size items on top of each other and stacking of heavy merchandise on top of lighter merchandise.
  • Most merchants do not track the history of such falls. This type of data can be critical for purposes of your case.

If you have been injured as a result of falling merchandise, contact us.

Typical Defenses in Falling Merchandise Cases

A common defense asserted in these types of claims is that the merchandise was caused to fall by the actions of a customer.  However that intervening cause type of argument is of little merit as that other customer’s conduct  is foreseeable.

Likewise, the defense of contributory negligence may come into play.  If the merchandise is jarred by the plaintiff stepping onto a lower shelf or projection there may be some merit to that.   However many courts that have dealt with the issue have considered that type of conduct by the plaintiff to be foreseeable.

The application of res  ipsa loquitur has, in most instances, been rejected by the courts. The merchandise is not necessarily within the exclusive control of the defendant.  The doctrine however may have some application.

The magnitude of the danger needs to be the focus. A five pound object that  falls only a few feet exerts a force many times its weight.  Developing that type of proof through an expert can be compelling.

There is a body of case law involving many of the big box stores as to these types of claims.  The continued disregard of customer safety may serve as the basis for a nuisance claim. Also it may be the basis for an injunction. The goal being to cause these stores to take steps to protect customers or post warnings at their front entrance.

For Falling Merchandise Cases Contact Us.

If you have been injured as a result of falling merchandise, contact us. Brien Roche has decades of expertise in premises liability cases.

Also see premises liability for more information on this subject.
In addition see the pages on Wikipedia.

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Falling Merchandise

Contact Us For A Free Consultation

Contact Us For A Free Consultation