With the holiday season in full swing, malls and retail stores are flooded with customers buying Christmas presents for their family, friends and colleagues.
To keep up with the demand, most stores will fully stock their items on the shelves to make sure that there will be no shortage of merchandise. When doing that, retailers have a duty to make sure that the merchandise is stacked in a safe manner to protect their customers from getting hurt.
Retailers may be negligent when an injury is attributable to a retailer's method of displaying its merchandise. This is exactly what happened in a New Jersey case against K-Mart.
In O'Shea v. K Mart Corp., 304 N.J. Super. 489 (App. Div. 1997), the plaintiff was injured when she was shopping for a golf bag in K-Mart. The golf bags were stacked on a shelf approximately five feet above the floor. Because they were golf bags, they were also "heavy and cumbersome."
Plaintiff tried to get a golf bag and used both hands to lower the bag from the shelf when she was struck in the face with another bag that fell from the display.
The court held that negligence could be inferred in this case because a jury could find that "the height of the display combined with the nature of the product being displayed and sold breached defendant's duty to plaintiff to keep the premises reasonably safe." In other words, K-Mart could be found to be at fault under these circumstances.
If you were hurt at a retail store or a mall due to a dangerous merchandise display, feel free to contact our experienced premises liability lawyers who have helped injured customers in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.