Lowe’s Companies Inc. could be on the hook for punitive damages in a premises liability suit that went to trial about recently in Nevada state court alleging that the home improvement retail giant’s failure to clean up standing water in an outdoor area of the store caused a customer to slip and suffer a significant brain and neck injury.
Plaintiff Kelly Hendrickson claims she fell in a Lowe’s store in 2013 while shopping for plants in the outdoor garden section. Her lawsuit states that her fall was caused by a “slippery substance on the floor” and that she sustained “severe, serious and permanent injuries and damages.”
Hendrickson’s attorney have argued that 33 other accidents had already occurred at Lowe’s stores under similar conditions prior to Hendrickson’s fall and that they knew standing water in the outdoor garden area at their stores posed a danger to customers.
“[Lowe’s] conduct complained of herein was despicable and so contemptible that it would be looked down upon and despised by ordinary, decent people and was carried on by [Lowe’s] with willful conscious disregard for the safety of Mrs. Hendrickson, and others in the State of Nevada, entitling plaintiff to exemplary and punitive damages,” the lawsuit states.
Lowe’s attorney, Esther Holm, says that a reasonable person should expect water in the garden area of a home improvement store, and that prudent steps were taken like putting down orange safety cones to warn customers. In fact, Holm notes that Mrs. Hendrickson fell on top of a four-foot caution cone that had been placed directly next to the water on which she slipped.
“Common sense tells where you have live plants there is going to be water, because plants require water in order to live,” Holm said.
The trial is expected to last up to two weeks.