Attorney Paul S. Rainville recently obtained a defense verdict in a two-day jury trial in Springfield District Court.
The case involved an eight year old plaintiff who purportedly tripped on a pile of clothing and hangers and fell face first into a structural post within the defendant’s retail store. The minor plaintiff sustained a laceration to her forehead which resulted in a significant facial scar. The plaintiff maintained that the defendant was negligent in allowing the pile of clothing and hangers to remain on the floor and that the condition existed for an unreasonable amount of time as the minor plaintiff, her sister and cousin were in the store for more than 15 minutes and there were no other patrons in the store and the salesperson remained at the register during that time frame. Attorney Rainville successfully elicited testimony from the minor and her sister in which they conceded that the minor plaintiff had been running and ‘goofing around’ in the store in the minutes before the incident. Attorney Rainville presented a store employee to testify that the store was well-run and had a plan in place to periodically walk the floor to look for anything amiss, including tripping hazards. The minor plaintiff conceded that she was not watching where she was walking just before she tripped. While Attorney Rainville conceded that the minor plaintiff and her family were very nice people and that the minor sustained a significant scar, he argued that there was no evidence as to how long the condition existed, if it did at all, and argued that scars were evidence of one’s learning experiences and that, as a result of the incident, the minor learned to watch where she was walking, the minor’s sister learned to keep a closer eye on her younger sister and that the minor’s mother learned not to leave her daughters without adult supervision.
The jury returned a finding of no negligence in favor of the defendant retail store after deliberating for approximately 70 minutes.