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 nearly 50 years ago.  These stores operate on the premise that it is more efficient and less expensive to warehouse as much merchandise as possible on the sales floor rather than in an off-site warehouse or a back room.  This high stacking of merchandise has produced considerable litigation reports injury attorney Brien Roche.

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 frequently not subject to any physical restraint from falling and injuring a customer.
  • There is typically no warning of the potential danger to the customer.
  • Employees typically receive minimal training in terms of how to properly stack the merchandise and then how to remove it.
  • The merchandise can be caused to fall as a result of being stacked in an unstable manner, merchandise on a nearby shelf being moved and making contact with the falling merchandise, stacking different size items on top of each other, stacking of heavy merchandise on top of lighter merchandise.
  • Many merchants have been quite meticulous in tracking these falling incidents whether they resulted in  injury or not.  This type of data can be critical for purposes of litigation.

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 some other customer.  Most courts have rejected that intervening cause type of argument on the grounds 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 attempting to reach something that is otherwise beyond reach by stepping onto a lower shelf or projection.  Although that may potentially create a contributory negligence situation 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 because 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 clearly emphasized.  A five pound object that  falls only a few feet exerts a force many multiples of its weight.  Developing that type of evidence through expert testimony can be compelling.

There is already 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 and injunctive relief to cause these stores to take necessary steps to protect customers or to otherwise post a warning at their front entrance as to the nature of the danger that customers are to be exposed to.

For Falling Merchandise Cases Contact a Liability Attorney

If you have been injured as a result of falling merchandise, contact us. Brien Roche has decades on expertise in falling merchandise litigation and waits to serve Northern Virginia and D.C area citizens.

See premises liability for more information on this subject.
For more information on premises liability see the pages on Wikipedia.

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Falling Merchandise

Contact Us For A Free Consultation

Contact Us For A Free Consultation