To think, of all the things that could go wrong for you at the Home Depot. You could get hit with a board, run over by a forklift, or assaulted by a paint shaker. What happens instead? One of the display chairs collapses.
A chair allegedly collapsed while Shelly Perkins was merely sitting in it minding her own business, according to The Pennsylvania Record. While she was sitting, the chair collapsed, sending her to the floor and, she claims, injuring her back, neck, and knees, along with practically the rest of her body.
This is a potential case of premises liability.
To catch a case of premises liability you must be the owner or occupier of property that allows visitors to enter the property and those visitors are injured. Of course, the visitors' injuries must be caused by a dangerous condition that you control.
Generally, more care must be taken when a person is an invitee on the property. Invitee means more than that you extended an invitation to a friend. Instead, this is a legal term that means you have opened you land to the public and invited them in, such as in a store or amusement park.
When you are operating a store, you are assumed to be informing those that enter that you have taken reasonable steps to assure the safety of your premises. This would include putting up warnings where there is a danger that cannot be fixed immediately, or inspecting stairways to assure they are sturdy and have a railing.
Here, Perkins claims that Home Depot failed to make its store safe because the chair in which she was sitting collapsed under her. For Perkins to be successful, she will need to show that Home Depot did not assemble the chair properly and then did not inspect the chair to be sure that it was properly assembled. If the chair was for display only, she will need to show that there was not a sign warning her of that fact.
If Home Depot can show that there were clear signs that stated "do not sit" and Perkins sat down, then Home Depot will likely not have any liability. Nor will Home Depot have liability if it can show that there was no way of knowing that the chair would collapse because of a latent defect that was not perceptible upon inspection.
In any case, if this lawsuit for a collapsing chair in Home Depot gets much more media it certainly seems like it will be as maligned as the McDonald's coffee lawsuit.
- Need a Philadelphia Personal Injury Attorney? (FindLaw)
- Concrete Ceiling Falls on Woman: Premises Liability 101 (FindLaw's Philadelphia Personal Injury Law Blog)
- Philly School's Empty Rooms A Haven for Premises Liability? (FindLaw's Philadelphia Personal Injury Law Blog)