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Virginia man suing Petsmart after slipping on dog feces

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by ilovepaydays, Apr 1, 2010.

  1. ilovepaydays

    ilovepaydays Well-Known Member

    Virginian-Pilot article

    Thoughts? The comment thread on there is interesting. Many people compare it to the McDonald's lawsuit with the lady that got burned by their coffee. I don't think he should win because I think there is an "assumed risk" but there is another issue here - too many people don't clean up after their pets.
  2. Karina1974

    Karina1974 Well-Known Member

    "Assumed risk?"

    Well, hello... there was dog shit on the floor. Not outside on the property, but inside the damn building. I feel sorry for whatever dog left it there, for having an owner so negligent that they let their dog shit inside any building, which implies a lack of proper training, not to mention keeping a close watch on the dog so they could remove it if it started trying to go to the bathroom inside, and so lacking in class that they didn't even stop and clean it up themselves.
  3. orbitz

    orbitz Well-Known Member

    PetSmart has always allow owners with pets to roam the store. The man knew that when he went inside to buy bird seeds and dog food. And with animals there's always a risk that they will deposit "presents" where they shouldn't have. I don't think the manager is negligence at all. He/she can't control every customer that go through the store. Now if the police can do DNA testing on the feces and trace it back to the dog and hence owner then we'll have a lawsuit :)
  4. FigureSpins

    FigureSpins Well-Known Member

    There are people who have really well-trained dogs that can go into stores like that. Then there are the morons who were really well-trained by their dogs... I was in a pet store once when an idiot, whose dog had diarrhea, brought the dog with her. Not to see the onsite vet, but to pick out dog toys and food. Hello? Leave your sick dog at home! Needless to say, the dog left a mess that she politely informed the store about on her way out. Yuck.

    In fairness, the dog owner might have gone looking for something to clean up the deposit and the guy slipped before they got back. Still, the offending dog owner is responsible - s/he should have put something near the mess to keep people from walking there. (IIRC, they have those little yellow "wet floor" pyramids every few aisles.)

    I don't think it's the pet store's fault unless they knew about the mess and left it there for a long time.
  5. debdelilah

    debdelilah New Member

    I believe he should win the lawsuit. Most stores make a point of making the interior as safe as possible--they know they need to put up warning signs and send a clean-up crew immediately if something happens that makes the floor slick, covered with glass, etc. Because if they don't, their customers will not find it easy to just avoid going to get items in those rows. And I don't think most stores want their customers to go elsewhere.

    I think most stores know that if they wanted to, they could make things safer. They could have more staff available to do walk-through checks. They could install spill buttons for people to press if there's something hazardous in an aisle, to warn managment and other customers. But since they don't do those things, they should probably consider themselves liable when something like this does happen.
  6. GarrAarghHrumph

    GarrAarghHrumph I can kill you with my brain

    It depends on whether whatever processes that Pet Smart has to handle this sort of situation are reasonable or not. If they have reasonable processes in place - for example, they have cones every few aisles for customers to use, they have disposable cloths available for customer use, their "oops" stations are clearly marked, and they have employees patrol the store at reasonable intervals - then they're covered. They've made their best effort to ensure that this sort of thing gets taken care of.

    Pet Smart does have all this in place. Unless this guy can prove that they knew there was waste on the floor and they chose not to deal with it, they're covered.
  7. berthesghost

    berthesghost Well-Known Member

    Ok, the store sounds kinda dirty, but the guy really has no leg to stand on IMO. He could have reinjured his already ailing back in hundreds of ways, including slipping on dog do left by the same asinine pet owner on the sidewalk outside the store. I don't think he'd get a million $ if he'd slipped on spaghetti sauce at the supermarket.

    Ouch though. We've all stepped in it at one time or other, but I've never known anyone to wipe out on dog poo, legs flying up in the air and head smacking the floor. Did they wax the floor before the dog took the dump?

    ETA the fact that he's suing also probably means they offered him money and he thinks he can get a lot more. Insurance company's like to settle these things out of court, and it usually only goes to trial if the victim won't accept the settlement.
  8. dbell1

    dbell1 Well-Known Member

    It's Pet Smart. I refuse to buy anything on a lower shelf there after watching dogs mark their territory on a vist.

    I'm waiting for a lawsuit when someone sues a parade after slipping in horse droppings. :lol:
  9. FigureSpins

    FigureSpins Well-Known Member

    EWWWW! I had never seen that happen, but it's totally possible. Thanks for the warning. :wideeyes:

    That's why they put the Boy Scouts in the parade after the horses - they're always prepared! lol
  10. berthesghost

    berthesghost Well-Known Member

    A friend is a clerk for a judge, and all they do is review cases of scammers suing the city. He said the easy ones are the ice rink ones: every year they get 100s of people who slip on the ice at city owned rinks and sue, but because there's a posted sign at the rink entrance saying you skate at your own risk, they're all just automatically thrown out.
  11. nubka

    nubka Well-Known Member

    If these extra precautions mean an increase in prices to cover them, then I'll take my chances with the doggie doo... :cool:
  12. reckless

    reckless Well-Known Member

    I don't understand why people assume this case is frivolous. PetSmart allows non-essential dogs (i.e., dogs that aren't service animals) into the store, knowing they can make a mess. If they know those messes can create a hazard to the customers they attract to their store, but fail to take reasonable steps to protect the customers, they are negligent. It's no different than if a restaurant cleans its floors, fails to warn people that the floors are wet, and someone slips and is injured.

    The real question in this case is whether PetSmart is negligent. That will turn on a few possible issues. First, would be the question of what did that particular store know and do about that particular mess. If there is evidence that the particular store was told about the mess in question, but did nothing, that could be negligent.

    Second, there might be issues with respect to PetSmart's general policies. For instance, if they have a policy of leaving cleaning supplies for customers to use, but do not have employees check for messes, that might be negligent, particularly if they have some knowledge that all customers do not clean up after their pets.

    Third, what if PetSmart has a history of customers being injured because of slips due to animal messes? While allowing animals into the stores is something they like to do to make customers comfortable, if the company had reason to believe that its policy was contributing to customer injuries, but left the policy intact because it was profitable, that may be a factor in negligence also.

    Another issue is the floor color. According to the complaint, the floor color was the same color as the feces so it was not visible to the man. Now that may not automatically be something that suggests negligence, but if that floor color is typical of PetSmart stores and the company had received complaints from customers that the color of the floor made it difficult to see animal messes in the past, but did nothing, it could be proof of negligence.

    I'm not assuming anything about PetSmart. I'm just pointing out that there are theories under which this claim could have validity. It all really depends on what the evidence reveals.

    Also, this is different than assuming the risk of a potentially dangerous activity like skating on a city rink. Going into a store to buy pet food should not be considered a risky activity.
    Karina1974 and (deleted member) like this.
  13. attyfan

    attyfan Well-Known Member

    One reason why a store has such a strong duty to keep the floors clean is that the store profits from preventing people from looking where they are going. Stores design displays to focus people's attention on the goods being sold -- not on the floor being walked on. IMO, it is simply unfair to say, when they want to sell you something, "don't look where you are walking, look at the goods instead" and then, when you fall, blame you for not looking where you were going.
  14. berthesghost

    berthesghost Well-Known Member

    most of your questions were answered in the article. I think he'll have a hard time proving that they knew about the poo and didn't act fast enough, and the other cases not winning is a bad sign for him IMO. But who know, maybe he has some solid evidence they aren't sharing yet.
  15. Beefcake

    Beefcake Guest

    :lol: You clever people and your poo puns! :p
  16. BaileyCatts

    BaileyCatts Well-Known Member

    If I was on the jury he wouldn't get a dime. :p
  17. BigB08822

    BigB08822 Well-Known Member

    He would only win if I was on the jury and he could prove to me that the store knew about the mess and left it there. That would prove negligence. Otherwise, he is only proving that he is suing the wrong person because the dog owner is the one who left the poop there, the store manager/employees may have not even known about it yet.
  18. reckless

    reckless Well-Known Member

    Let me offer a hypothetical.

    What if the store had previously had injuries to customers due to pet messes? (Apparently that isn't hypothetical because the same store was the subject of a prior suit.) What if the company overall had experienced a history of problems with customer injuries but decided it would be too expensive to assign workers specifically to walk the floor looking for pet messes and would hurt business if it denied animals access to the store? If the company did a cost-benefit analysis and decided not to take steps to protect customers and the result was that it contributed to allowing a hazard to exist in its store, it should bear some responsibility.

    I saw a mention of the McDonald's case, but people really do not understand the facts of that case. The reason McDonald's was found negligent was not because the woman spilled coffee on her lap. McDonald's was negligent because it kept its coffee at 185 degrees, about 20 degrees hotter than other companies, because it would stay hotter longer. The problem was that at that temperature, coffee causes third-degree burns in about 2-5 seconds when spilled. At 160 degrees, it takes about 20 seconds to cause third-degree burns, so the woman might have managed to get the coffee off her skin before it caused so much damage. McDonalds also knew the extraordinarily hot coffee caused injuries, as it had settled more than 700 prior complaints before the woman was injured. She was in her 70s and was hospitalized for a week due to the burns. (By the way, her car was parked at the time, contrary to a common misconception.)
    rjblue and (deleted member) like this.
  19. Kruss

    Kruss Not Auto-Tuned

    I watched that happen too - on a big bag of dog food, no less!
  20. Satellitegirl

    Satellitegirl New Member

    sounds like a bunch of crap to me.
  21. nubka

    nubka Well-Known Member

  22. debdelilah

    debdelilah New Member

    Well, maybe so when people ask for a million dollars. I'm thinking more of reimbursing doctors for medical expenses for injuries that occur because of a fall. A person I work with is still getting physical therapy after falling backwards on laundry detergent at a grocery store.

    Say a person had an epileptic fit for the first time while driving and got into an accident--or a stroke or a heart attack, etc. I think they'd be legally liable in the accident even though negligence was not involved. Same with the store. They're responsible for keeping it safe, even though it's impossible to always be safe, all the time, even with no negligence. So if something happens, they can still pay medical expenses...it wouldn't even be that much, these things don't happen every day.
  23. StonewshMullet

    StonewshMullet Well-Known Member

    Is he sure it was dog feces? There are some pretty weird humans out there...:shuffle:
  24. Southpaw

    Southpaw Saint Smugpawski

    I'm with reckless, I think the guy's got a case.

    Here's a man who was 69 at the time of the fall who did nothing wrong but to enter a commercial property and was injured as a result of their open doggy-door policy. A 69 year-old man does not heal quickly. He's likely to have lingering health issues from a fall. Now, whether negligence can be proved is another matter and maybe the case will get tossed but this isn't one of those Lindsey Lohan cases that has me saying "give me an effing break."

    reckless, correct me if I'm wrong but just because the plaintiff is going for $1 million doesn't necessarily mean he'll win $1 million if the percentage of PetSmart's liability decreases, right? Meaning, if PetSmart is found to only be 70% liable then the judgment would be reduced to $700,000, yes?
  25. berthesghost

    berthesghost Well-Known Member

    well, that's the risk. So he's either got a good case, or he's not so smart. PetSmart probably offered him like $100k or something, and he and his lawyer think they can get a lot more. But if he loses the case, he gets shit.
  26. reckless

    reckless Well-Known Member

    If Virginia has comparative fault, that may be the case. I don't know what standards they apply to negligence. Each state has differences.

    Don't assume too much. The plaintiff in the McDonalds case said she would have never filed suit if McDonalds had just been willing to pay her medical bills. Companies often do not make settlement offers right off the bat, since most complaints never turn into lawsuits.
  27. shan

    shan Well-Known Member

    Eww!!! :scream: This makes me so glad not to have a reason to shop at Pet Smart!!
  28. orbitz

    orbitz Well-Known Member

    How about just no pet allowed in the store? Yeah, it won't make PetSmart popular but they have a monoply of pet food retail so it won't affect them.
  29. StonewshMullet

    StonewshMullet Well-Known Member

    I don't bring my dog with me when I go to Petsmart. She would go apeshit and drive me crazy.
  30. MacMadame

    MacMadame Cat Lady-in-Training

    But Petco lets pets in their store so PetSmart kind of has to too to stay competitive.