Barbara Rieger was a regular grocery customer of Giant Eagle. The company is based in Pittsburgh, PA and has over (300) stores in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and Maryland. In December 2012, Mrs. Rieger was struck by another customer who was operating a motorized shopping cart that is used by customers with physical mobility concerns. Upon being impacted by the cart, the 71-year old Rieger was abruptly pushed into a shelf display unit and endured injuries to her head and neck. Her attorneys claimed that the store failed to provide any instruction on proper operation of these carts to those who use them. Further, they accused the company of exhibiting a pattern of negligence in their handling of the operation of the vehicles within their stores. Apparently, there was a total of (119) documented accidents involved with these carts within Giant Eagle's stores.
The incident occurred at the end of 2012 and the suit was filed in 2014. The company's initial defense stated that there was a lack of evidence that the store was at fault in the accident. They progressed to file a Motion for Summary Judgment, which is reserved for civil cases, citing that the facts of the case were insufficient to warrant proceeding with a trial. In response, the Plaintiff set forth an Opposition to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgement based on several arguments which included:
- That Giant Eagle had a duty based on its knowledge to prevent such incidents based on the foreseeability of an injury.
- Giant Eagle had internally tracked and documented such incidents in an electronic database as well in hard copy form.
- Of the (179) incidents involving these carts, (117) occurred prior to the date where Ms. Reiger was injured.
- The company took no additional actions based on their knowledge to prevent further incidents.
- The company did not post any warnings for customers that injuries have occurred from customers being struck by the carts.
- Giant Eagle provided no attempts at instructing customers of how to drive or safely use the carts.
- The plaintiff claimed that negligent entrustment was exhibited by the store.
Ultimately, all facts indicated that Giant Eagle had knowledge of the risks and entrusted the operation of these motorized carts by inexperienced or incompetent operators, without regard for the safety of 3rd parties. The jury awarded Mrs. Rieger $120,000 in compensatory damages as well as $1.2 million in punitive damages.
Accidents resulting in injuries can occur to innocent people in the unlikeliest of places. Often the accidents could have been avoided if people or entities had taken action to prevent such incidents, especially if they were aware of the risks based on prior incidents. The Law Firm of Jeremy Rosenthal is a Colorado-based advocate for the rights of injury victims. Contact the office for a free consultation to discuss your case and begin the process of obtaining compensation for your injuries.