3 Slip and fall lawsuits that hinged on shaky legal grounds

3 Slip and fall lawsuits that hinged on shaky legal grounds

Every discussion of liability lawsuits eventually arrives at the same conclusion: personal injury lawyers are evil.

They’re either representing multinational conglomerates to squash worker/customer protections, or filing frivolous lawsuits over spilt coffee.

Well, we come bearing great news! There are actually attorneys out there fighting the good fight against abuses of liability law, and they’re winning.

Here are three of our favorite failed personal injury arguments:

Wearing high heels is reckless

In 2015, Jennifer Bongiorno slipped and fell in the bathroom of her workplace. She filed a personal injury case against Americorp (the building owner), claiming the floor was “unusually slippery” and nothing had been done to prevent an accident.

Americorp claimed it was Bongiorno’s fault for wearing four-inch heels to work, and pointed out that building occupants wearing “safer footwear” had no problem tiptoeing across the bathroom that day.

The case took place in Florida, a state that allows liability to be split. In his written opinion, the judge deemed both the bathroom slipper and the building owner 50% liable for the accident.

But that didn’t sit well with Jennifer. She appealed her case and won, significantly increasing her employer's liability.

For one, she could reasonably assume the heels were OK to wear since she had no problem with them before. But more importantly, her choice of footwear didn’t change the fact that a flooded bathroom is treacherous.

That’s like saying it was Charlie Sheen’s fault that Two and a Half Men got cancelled. His coke-fueled meltdown certainly didn’t help the situation, but it didn’t change the fact that the show was a formulaic sitcom with a laugh track.

“We can’t pick up every pickled pepper”

In 2000, Leonor Garcia slipped on a jalapeño in a Wal-Mart food court and fell. A jury valued Garcia’s damages at $75,000, paving the way for one of the most quotable personal injury cases in US history.

As is the case with most liability cases, the plaintiff (Garcia) needed to prove that the defendant (Wal-Mart) knew its facility was hazardous and did nothing to fix the situation. The judge’s final decision labeled the conundrum as follows:

“Issue One: Actual or Constructive Notice of the Jalapeño”

The thrust of Garcia’s argument was that the filthy state of the dining area was enough to prove how little attention it received from Wal-Mart employees. If the dining area had been cleaned more often, it wouldn’t have been a minefield of slick chilis.

That was a pretty solid legal argument, but it was almost totally drowned out by squabbling over the freshness of Wal-Mart’s condiments.

Garcia testified that the jalapeño that caused her fall looked stale and wrinkled, further proving how neglected the facilities were.

Wal-Mart employees disagreed, telling the jury that “the jalapeño was fresh at the time of Garcia's accident...because [it] still had juice in it, as evidenced by its streak mark.” Furthermore, their attorneys argued that if it wasn’t fresh, it wouldn’t have been slippery enough to cause a fall.

Thankfully, the final decision had nothing to do with vegetable quality. The judge ruled in Garcia’s favor on account of at least six contradictory statements from Wal-Mart food court staff.

Attaching a balance ball to your feet is “exercise”

In 2009, Skechers released their first Shape-Up shoes, which looked like normal shoes with a rounded bottom. Speaking of rounded bottoms, Skechers paid Kim Kardashian to say that the hideous footwear were responsible for her most recognizable feature.

The hairbrained ad campaign alleged that wearing shoes with curved soles forced wearers to tighten their core to maintain balance and stability. Or, stated another way, “these shoes will try to kill you with every step...but they’ll also make you fit!”

The fitness claims were proven to be 100% false, so even our brutally honest translation is only half true.

To date, more than 100 wearers have filed personal injury lawsuits against Skechers because of slips, trips and falls that were directly related to Shape-Ups.

The most common story was that when walking down stairs the shoes shifted the wearer's weight forward until they chest bumped every step on the way down.

Rethinking liability law

In each of these cases, corporate entities failed to maintain reasonably safe environments and products. Although blaming errant condiments, pseudo-fashionable shoes or poorly researched health claims was mildly amusing, it was also incredibly irresponsible and legally unjustifiable.

When your case is handled by Buckingham, LaGrandeur & Williams, you’ll never need to worry about being undone by underhanded legal tricks. Give us a call today.