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Fatal Slip & Fall Began With $50K Initial Offer, Uncooperative Defendants

Like all brick-and-mortar retailers, grocery stores have a duty to maintain their premises and provide a safe environment free of obstructions. However, a suburban grocery chain in Washington let the flooring at one of their locations fall into disrepair. Despite an ongoing remodel, the supermarket used decrepit cloth mats to cover worn, water-soaked floor tiles. One day, a 76-year-old woman shopping in the meat department tripped on one of the mats. She hit her head on the ground so hard that it caused a large subdural hematoma, hemorrhaging, and intracranial herniation. Tragically, she passed from her injuries. John Greaney of the Greaney Scudder Law Firm, PLLC represented the woman’s surviving family, obtaining a seven-figure settlement to hold the retailer accountable.

When he learned of her passing, the woman’s husband called her family attorney, who referred the case to John Greaney. John, a personal injury attorney with over 40 years of experience, was no stranger to challenging lawsuits, and this case was no different. Unfortunately, the store’s attorneys were uncooperative from the get-go. They stalled and deflected constantly. Consequently, John filed a suit in Washington state court.

Immediately after taking the case, John subpoenaed three items: the floor mat the woman tripped on, the surveillance video, and witness statements collected by loss prevention and the store’s employees. In fact, he requested the mat the day after the fall occurred. However, the Defense claimed that the store had already thrown it away. When John finally received the surveillance footage, it was grainy, pixelated, and the objects in the video were indistinguishable.

The Defense countered John’s claims by arguing that the woman fell because she wasn’t watching where she was going. They declared that their floors were beautiful and produced footage of people walking on the mat with no problem. They also said that because the woman was older, damages shouldn’t be very high. Then, the Defense referred the suit to federal court, thinking they would have an easier time at that venue.

With the Defendants throwing so many curveballs, John needed an airtight argument. Even with discovery in an early stage, he contacted DK Global to prepare a visual presentation. He shared medical documentation and CT scans taken of the woman after she fell and began creating a reconstruction and damages animation.

John continued to dig into the evidence. He found customers who had helped the woman. Fortuitously, one of them had taken photographs of the mat minutes after she fell. Next, John enlisted experts, including a storage safety expert, a mat and flooring expert, a forensic economist, and a neurosurgeon. The neurosurgeon opined that the woman had hit her head so hard on the floor that she was brain-dead within 8 to 10 minutes.

Using the evidence from the store, the medical scans, and the expert testimony, John’s argument centered on how the decrepit floor mat caused the woman’s fall, and that for 8-10 minutes after, she experienced excruciating pain and suffering. John and DK Global modified the presentation as new information came to light through discovery and expert testimony.

The final presentation began with photos of the store’s unkempt aisles and water-logged tiles. Then, the floor mat photos obtained from one of the witnesses showed how the dilapidated covering had curled up in the corners as much as an inch off the ground. Next, a closer and enhanced view of the surveillance footage captured the woman falling. The video highlighted how the floor mat curled up, signaling that she had indeed tripped on one of its edges. After that, the woman’s likeness was modeled in 3D and simulated how the fall caused a coup-contrecoup injury. Finally, the woman’s CT scans were displayed and colorized to identify the location and severity of the damage.

John attended mediation one month before trial. He only shared the video only after the Defense came in with a low-calorie $50,000 initial offer. Once they saw the presentation, the tone of the meeting changed. They concluded with a confidential seven-figure settlement for the woman’s surviving family.

For over 40 years, John J. Greaney of Greaney Scudder Law Firm, PLLC has specialized in wrongful death accidents, serious personal injury, and premises liability. Before opening his own office, John served as counsel for an insurance defense firm. Now, as a top-rated plaintiff’s personal injury attorney in Kent, Washington, John uses his knowledge and expertise to represent those harmed by wrongdoings.

"I can say clearly that animations give a great advantage to the attorneys that use it because it shows the attorney on that side of the case is well prepared."
John J. Greaney - Greaney Scudder Law Firm, PLLC
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