A Dollar Tree, Dollar General, or Family Dollar store’s negligence may cause you to slip and fall in Florida. If this happens and you are hurt, you may have a case.
This article focuses on slip, and trip, and fall claims against Dollar Tree, Dollar General, Family Dollar stores in Florida. Let’s take a look at some actual cases.
The cases in this article aren’t mine unless I specifically say that they are.
Slip and Fall Injury Lawsuit Against Family Dollar Stores Stays in Federal Court
In Thomas v. Family Dollar Stores of Florida, Dist. Court, MD Florida 2017, Mary A. Thomas sued Family Dollar for a slip and fall injury.
She sued in state court. Family Dollar Stores removed the case to federal court. (They likely did this because they thought they had a better chance of winning the case in federal court.)
Thomas asked the court to send the case back to state court. However, the judge refused. The judge said that the case should remain in federal court because:
- Family Dollar Stores and Thomas are “citizens” of different states
- Thomas’ medical expenses incurred prior to filing a lawsuit were $17,155
- In her offer to settle before suing, she demanded an amount greater than $75,000
- Thomas’ future medical costs ranged from $97,600 to $107,360
- Her lawsuit also requested compensation for lost wages, future loss of earning capacity, and mental pain and suffering
Basically, the court thought the case has a reasonable explanation for the case being worth more than $75,000.
This is a temporary win for Family Dollar. However, the case is still ongoing. I will report back if, and when, I hear the final outcome of the case.
Customer’s Claim for Trip On Shopping Basket and Fall
In DeLeon v. Dollar Tree Stores, Inc., 98 So. 3d 96 – Fla: Dist. Court of Appeals, 4th Dist. 2012, Julissa DeLeon sued Dollar Tree Stores. This case was appealed to the District Court of Appeal of Florida, Fourth District.
The 4th DCA is located in West Palm Beach, Florida. It handles appeals for Palm Beach, Broward, St. Lucie, Martin, Indian River, and Okeechobee Counties. The appeals court issued its opinion in July 2012.
Aventura and Miami, Florida lawyers represented the injured woman. A Coral Gables attorney represented Dollar Tree Stores.
This is not my case. However, I have settled many Florida slip and fall cases.
Julissa DeLeon, the plaintiff (injured person), appeals from the trial court’s entry of summary judgment (dismissal) in favor of Dollar Tree Stores, Inc.
DeLeon sued Dollar Tree for injuries she suffered when she tripped over a shopping basket that was on the floor behind her in a checkout line. She accused Dollar Tree of negligence in failing to keep the store reasonably safe and failing to warn her about the shopping basket.
The appeals court found that genuine issues of material fact existed, and it reversed the trial court’s entry of summary judgment against DeLeon. This means that the appeals court is letting the case proceed towards trial.
Tip: In this case, the Dollar Tree likely offered the injured woman money since they were not able to dismiss the case. The Dollar Tree, Dollar General or Family Dollar will likely offer money to settle if they cannot get the case dismissed before trial.
This is because she has a chance of winning. In addition, these Dollar stores have to pay outside counsel by the hour, and it can get pricey.
Shopping after work, DeLeon went to a Dollar Tree store to purchase a few items. She approached the one open checkout line where two customers were ahead of her.
The person at the front of the line was causing a delay because she was using coupons. At some point while DeLeon waited in line, a woman who was talking on a cell phone got in line behind her.
Eventually a neighboring register opened up and the cashier at that register pointed to DeLeon and told her to come to the newly opened register.
At first DeLeon declined and stayed in line, but the new cashier insisted, so DeLeon gathered her items, turned to walk to the neighboring register, and tripped over a shopping basket that was on the floor behind her. DeLeon fell on the floor. She injured herself.
DeLeon did not recall who put the shopping basket on the floor behind her or if it was already there when she first entered the line.
My thoughts: The Dollar Tree claims adjuster may reduce the full value of her case because she cannot remember if the basket was on the floor before she entered the line. There is a chance that it was on the floor before the fall.
If it was, the adjuster will argue that she should have seen it before her fall and therefore she is largely at fault.
The floor was not wet or slippery.
Tip: If a store employee put the shopping basket on the floor, it makes the injured claimant’s case easier. This is because the store cannot deny that it had notice of the cart on the floor.
If you trip and fall over an object on the floor at a Florida store, you need to show that they store knew or should have known that it was on the floor before your fall.
An assistant manager and two other employees were working at the Dollar Tree store during the evening of the incident. It was the employees’ duty to ensure that the store was kept clean and clear of obstacles on the floor.
However, it was so busy that evening that the assistant manager found it necessary to operate a register for approximately fifteen minutes.
My thoughts: The lady has a stronger case because the Dollar Tree store was busy. Busy stores should be inspecting the checkout lines more frequently for items and debris on the floor.
Another employee was on break when the accident occurred.
My thoughts: This is another good fact for the injured lady because there is one less store employee witness.
Consequently, the store was not checked for obstacles for at least a half an hour.
Tip: The fact that the floor was not checked for obstacles for at least 30 minutes is good for the lady. Your fall down case generally gets better as the time period that an inspection did not occur increases.
One of the cashiers stated that she was responsible for patrolling the store for discarded items, including shopping baskets on the floor.
Customers were likely to leave their shopping baskets on the floor when they were in the checkout line. The trial court granted the Dollar Tree’s motion for summary judgment.
This means that the trial court dismissed the case. The appeals court then analyzed the case.
1) the amount of time a substance has been on the floor, or
2) the fact that the condition occurred with such frequency that the owner should have known of its existence.” Thompson v. Poinciana Place Condo. Ass’n, 729 So.2d 457, 458 (Fla. 4th DCA 1999). Learn about slip and fall claims against Florida condo associations.
There was no evidence presented as to how long the shopping basket had been on the floor. However, one of Dollar Tree’s cashiers said that one of her job responsibilities was seeking out of place shopping baskets and returning them to their rightful place.
She admitted that it was common for customers to place their shopping baskets on the floor in the checkout line. She stated that on multiple prior occasions she had warned customers about shopping baskets left on the floor.
Therefore, a jury could reasonably conclude that Dollar Tree had constructive notice of the shopping basket based on its occurring with such frequency that the owner should have known of its existence.
Dollar Tree relied on its argument that summary judgment (dismissal) was appropriate because DeLeon was aware that the shopping basket was present on the ground when she tripped over it. The appeals court said that this to be a disputed point.
And even if the evidence revealed conclusively that DeLeon was aware of the shopping basket behind her when she tripped, Dollar Tree’s argument would be without merit. See Fenster v. Publix Supermarkets, Inc., 785 So.2d 737, 739 (Fla. 4th DCA 2001) (“A plaintiff’s knowledge of a dangerous condition does not negate a defendant’s potential liability for negligently permitting the dangerous condition to exist; it simply raises the issue of comparative negligence and prevents summary judgment.”).
The evidence reveals genuine issues of material fact as to whether Dollar Tree negligently failed to keep its premises reasonably safe for DeLeon, and if so, whether DeLeon’s injuries were a result of such negligence. The appeals court let the case continue towards trial.
She still has a tough case. A jury could find that Dollar Tree did nothing wrong. However, at least her case gets to a jury and she has the possibility of recovering her damages.
Dollar Tree Can’t Get Claimant’s Psychiatric Records if No Mental Anguish Claim
If a claimant does not sue Dollar Tree for mental anguish or mental pain and suffering from the accident, she is not required to show the judge her psychiatric records. There is a psychotherapist-patient privilege created by section 90.503, Florida Statutes.
The case that says this is Webb v. Dollar Tree Stores, Inc., 987 So. 2d 778 – Fla: Dist. Court of Appeals, 3rd Dist. 2008. It is an appeal after Webb sued Dollar Tree Stores, Inc.
Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal (DCA) issued its ruling on July 30, 2008. Florida’s 3rd DCA handles appeals for Miami-Dade and Monroe County, Florida.
A Miami lawyer represented the claimant. Dollar Tree Stores was represented by Walton Lantaff Schroeder & Carson LLP and Bernard I. Probst and Lazaro C. Rodriguez and Leticia G. Coleman in Miami, Florida.
Who are other competitors of Dollar stores in Florida?
Dollar Tree, Family Dollar and Dollar General has many competitors in Florida. Check out some slip and fall articles about them:
- Big Lots slip, trip and fall claims in Florida
- Slip and fall injury claims against Walmart Stores in Florida
- Slip and fall injury claims against Target Stores in Florida
- Five Below slip and fall injury claims
Did Dollar Tree, Dollar General or Family Dollar’s carelessness cause you to slip or trip and fall, and suffer an injury in Florida? Were you injured in another type of accident or somewhere else?
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