Food Lion Owes $5M to Shopper Crushed By Grocery Cart

Posted February 19, 2013 in Jury Awards Personal Injury by

Full shopping cart in aisle of a grocery store

George Doyle/Stockbyte/Thinkstock

A shopper knocked over by a stocking cart has won a $5 million jury verdict against grocery chain Food Lion.

64-year-old Ella Cousins had just started her grocery shopping and was pushing an empty cart down the main aisle of her local Food Lion in Virginia when a 200-pound cart piled high with beauty items collided with her cart. Cousins was knocked backwards and hit her head on the ceramic floor.

She sued Food Lion claiming she suffered a traumatic brain injury.

Her attorney, Christopher Guedri, of the law firm Allen & Allen, argued that Food Lion was responsible for the accident because its employee, Barbara Hopper, had piled the stocking cart so high that she couldn’t see where she was going. Guedri also argued that Hopper was pushing the cart instead of pulling it, in violation of company rules designed to prevent such accidents.

A jury agreed, blaming the company for the accident and ordering it to pay $5 million in damages.

Cousins, who used to work as an assistant to those who could not care for themselves, can no longer work herself and relies on her daughter and granddaughter to look after her. Her granddaughter delayed going to college in order to care for her. The jury’s award will help pay for medical care that costs about $200,000 per year, according to Guedri.

Attorney Christopher Guedri headshot

Attorney Christopher Guedri

This is the second time the case went to trial.

The first time, even though Food Lion admitted Hopper was at fault, a jury came out with a different decision — it also partly blamed Cousins for the accident, finding that she should have gotten out of the way. As a result, Cousins would have won nothing, because under Virginia law a plaintiff who is found at fault cannot collect at all.

But Guedri appealed that verdict and the state Supreme Court agreed, ordering a new trial.

The difference in the two trials was that in the first trial Guedri blocked the jury from seeing videotape from a surveillance camera because it was fuzzy.

In the second trial, he decided not to fight it, afraid that the jury might think that he was trying to run away from it. Instead, he argued that the fuzzy images of the two carts before and after the accident supported his client’s version of events.

A spokesperson for Food Lion said it was disappointed with the verdict and is considering an appeal.

 

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