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Baker Sterchi Cowden & Rice Wins Defense Verdict in Retailer’s Premise Liability Matter

After a week-long trial in the US District Court for the District of Kansas, Baker Sterchi Cowden & Rice won a defense verdict for a retail client in a premises liability case in which our client was sued by an individual seeking as much as $500,000 in damages. The suit arose from an incident where plaintiff alleged slipping and falling on applesauce present on the retailer’s floor, fracturing a vertebrae in her back.

Through a combination of evidence and testimony, the trial team was able to show it was more likely than not that the applesauce had been spilled by another customer some 28 seconds before the alleged incident, and as such, our client lacked actual or constructive knowledge of the spill.  In addition to claiming general negligence, plaintiff argued the amount of time the applesauce was on the floor should not be determinative, because the “mode of operations” adopted by our client in permitting customers to walk through the store, created a foreseeable and unreasonable risk that customers could drop items on the floor, creating an immediate hazard.

The firm's trial team crafted a defense that argued the “mode of operation” did not apply and that no recovery should be permitted because the client had taken reasonable steps to anticipate and address any potential problems.  Ultimately, as argued by defendant, the jury found defendant not to be at fault for the unfortunate incident – resulting in a 100% defense verdict for our client.

Services: Retail, Personal Injury Defense and Premises Liability