Mildred Thomas was shopping at the CVS drugstore and asked the clerk to check the price of a chair that was stacked with other chairs in a metal bin on a 6-foot shelf. As the clerk reached up and moved the chair to look for the price, multiple chairs and the bin itself fell from the shelf. One of the chairs hit Thomas on the head.
Thomas, 58, was taken to a hospital emergency room complaining of soreness to her head. Later radiology imaging showed no abnormalities, but she did develop severe headaches, dizziness, tinnitus, and memory issues.
A neurologist later diagnosed a head injury. When Thomas’ severe headaches persisted, she was treated with pain injections and other cognitive therapies.
Her medical expenses totaled more than $25,000. Thomas continues to suffer from severe headaches as well as memory and concentration problems. It is expected that she will continue to incur medical expenses for medicine, psychological counseling and possible inpatient cognitive retraining.
At the time of her injuries, she was working as a senior billing analyst for a utility company. She did return to work but because she had problems related to her injury that made it impossible for her to continue, she left work about one month later. She is now permanently disabled.
Thomas filed a lawsuit against CVS alleging that it was negligent in stacking the chairs on a 6-foot shelf in unsecured bins, in violation of the store’s own policy, which required the chairs be stored on lower shelves and that bins containing the chairs be secured to the shelf with safety clips.
Her lawsuit also alleged that CVS was unable to produce any evidence that safety clips were used and also it chose not to produce the video of the incident although the store had multiple surveillance cameras. The failure to produce the evidence of the video was a fact that must have been detrimental to the defense of CVS.
CVS argued that the chair that fell was a smaller and lighter model than the one Thomas claimed hit her. CVS maintained that the chair was stored on a mid-level shelf, not one that was 6 feet high. It also said that it did not fall directly onto Thomas. CVS also claimed that none of the surveillance cameras captured the incident. The defense denied that Thomas suffered a brain injury and argued that she was suffering from pre-existing psychiatric issues for which she had taken disability leave on two previous occasions.
The jury was not convinced of CVS’ defense. The jury found that the store was negligent and awarded $4.62 million, which include $2.07 million for future medical expenses, $1.22 million for future pain and suffering, $806,000 for future lost earnings, $250,000 for past lost earnings, $250,000 for past pain and suffering and $25,000 for past medical expenses.
The attorneys representing Mildred Thomas were Robert M. Raitt and Alison F. Duffy.
At trial, the plaintiff’s experts included two neurologists, an internal medicine physician and a neuropsychologist. CVS presented an expert in neurology.
Thomas v. Woodward Detroit CVS, LLC, No. 13-11919-NO (Mich. Cir. Ct. Wayne County, Sept. 3, 2015).
Kreisman Law Offices has been handling work site injuries, premises liability cases, automobile crash cases, car accidents, bicycle accidents, motorcycle accidents, pedestrian accidents and truck accident cases for individuals and families who have been injured or killed by the negligence of another for more than 40 years, in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas including, Skokie, Rolling Meadows, Maywood, Bridgeview, Markham, Oak Lawn, Northfield, Morton Grove, LaGrange Park, Lansing, Hoffman Estates, Elgin, Joliet, Calumet Park, Western Springs, Chicago (Marquette Park, Brighton Park, Lawndale, Garfield Park, Hermosa, Humboldt Park, Pilsen, Chinatown, Oakland, Hyde Park, South Shore, South Deering, Pullman, Riverdale), Bedford Park and Brookfield, Ill.
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