Skip to comments.Appeals Court Refuses Reinstatement of French Fry Fall Suit
Posted on 10/08/2003 11:14:25 AM PDT by Chummy
Court refuses to reinstate lawsuit over slip on french fry
(Published Wednesday, October 8, 2003 09:17:49 AM CDT)
By Robert Imrie/Associated Press
WAUSAU, Wis. -- A divided state appeals court refused Tuesday to revive a woman's lawsuit that alleged a Green Bay arena was unsafe because she slipped on a ketchup-soaked french fry on a stairway and broke her ankle.
The 3rd District Court of Appeals said allowing the lawsuit to proceed as the woman contended would have impractical ramifications for stadiums, theaters, restaurants and shopping malls.
"Imagine, for example, the consequences for Lambeau Field when more than 70,000 people are trying to exit at the end of a football game," Judge Gregory Peterson wrote. "Are they all required to sit in their seats until custodians have inspected all the stairways, hallways, aisles and rows? How many custodians must the stadium employ?"
According to court records, Nancy Megal of Hortonville attended the "Pocahontas on Ice" show Feb. 6, 1998, at the Brown County Veterans Memorial Arena. The 4,220 spectators were free to take food or drink anywhere in the arena.
Megal slipped on the french fry as she and crowd left the arena. Her broken ankle required surgery and left her with permanent pain and disability, court records said.
Megal sued the arena and its insurance company, alleging a violation of Wisconsin's safe-place law, which requires public places to be kept "as safe as the nature of the premises reasonably permits."
Megal contended the arena was liable for her injuries either through its failure to clean the stairs where she fell or its method of operation in having too few custodians on duty.
She relied on two earlier cases in which similar lawsuits were allowed to proceed involving a slip on a prune in a grocery store and a slip on shaving foam on the floor at a self-serve men's cosmetics counter.
Courts ruled those lawsuits were proper because the store owners had "actual notice" of potential hazards.
Brown County Circuit Judge William Atkinson dismissed Megal's lawsuit, ruling she could not prove the arena had knowledge of the dangerous condition, the french fry on the step. The appeals court upheld the ruling in a 2-1 decision.
Peterson wrote there's no way workers could have patrolled the arena to be on guard for something like a spilled french fry, and Megal was unable to show what could have been done to prevent her injury.
"The safe-place law was never intended to make owners and operators insurers of the public's safety," he said. "The exception ... is very narrow."
In a 13-page dissent, Judge R. Thomas Cane said the majority opinion is improperly driven by public policy considerations, and a jury should resolve the dispute.
Megal declined comment Tuesday about the appeals court ruling, saying she first wanted to discuss it with her attorney. Her attorney, John Peterson, did not immediately return a telephone message from The Associated Press for comment.
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How suits like this actually make it to court sickens me.
THAT is the problem. Tort reform is the beginning of the answer. Trial lawyers are to blame for every single freedom taken away from us in this country. From losing our freedom to swim in the local swimming hole because some idiot couldn't read a sign to restrictions on guns to the prices of our medications. Heck, they tried to take my sinus pills away because a few people CLAIM they don't know that anything ending in an "ine" is SPEED.
I have noticed that since the left brought all of it's power to bear to attack the president over Iraq, he has been silent on his two pet peeves : environazi regulations and trial lawyers in general. There was a time recently when EVERY speech by the president had a mention of trial lawyers. I'm not hearing that anymore. His vendetta against trial lawyers and the damage they cause to all of us is one of the things I admire most about him.
I miss it, and don't think it's a coincidence that he has been forced to stop while fending off concerted attacks from the left.
We won't get our country back until we get the ability to reign in the trial lawyers. The good news is the SCOTUS overturning some ruinous awards from tobacco lawsuits and SUV lawsuits, so maybe we have a beginning going on quietly after all.
The litigious wench should employ her eyes and the handrail.
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