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New Jersey Verdicts

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Supermarket's aisle was not dangerous, defense argued

Type:

Verdict-Defendant

State:

New Jersey

Venue:

Bergen County

Court:

Bergen County Superior Court

Injury Type(s):

hip-fracture; hip other-pins and rods surgeries/treatment-open reduction surgeries/treatment-internal fixation

Case Type:

Premises Liability - StoreSlips, Trips & Falls - Slips, Trips & Falls, FalldownPremises Liability - Dangerous Condition

Case Name:

Christine Brucella v. Shoprite of Paramus and Wakefern Food Corporation

Date:

July 1, 2013

Parties

Plaintiff(s):

Christine Brucella (Female, 77 Years)

Plaintiff Attorney(s):

J. Silvio Mascolo; Rebenack Aronow Mascolo, LLP; New Brunswick, NJ, for Christine Brucella

Plaintiff Expert(s):

Walter Wysowaty PE; Engineering; Blairstown, NJ called by: Christine Brucella

Defendant(s):

Shoprite of Paramus, 

Wakefern Food Corporation

Defense Attorney(s):

James N. Barletti; Gold, Albanese & Barletti; Morristown, NJ, for Shoprite of Paramus, Wakefern Food Corporation

Facts:

On April 23, 2011, plaintiff Christine Brucella, 77, a retiree, alleged she was walking down an aisle at Shoprite supermarket in Paramus when another shopper struck her with his shopping cart, causing her to fall. Brucella claimed she sustained a fracture to her right hip in the incident. Brucella sued Shoprite of Paramus and its buying cooperative, Wakefern Food Corporation, for negligence. She claimed the aisle was too narrow to allow her to move out of the way of the shopping cart to avoid being hit by it. Plaintiff's counsel claimed the aisle created a dangerous condition for patrons who are walking when a shopper pushing a cart suddenly appears in front them. The plaintiff's liability expert testified that the aisle needed to be 12 feet wide to assure safe passage of patrons with shopping carts. The defense argued that the aisle was the appropriate size and was not a dangerous condition. Defense counsel noted that the accident was captured on surveillance video. Counsel contended that Brucella was not paying attention, was impatient and could have prevented the accident as the other patron approached her. Counsel claimed Brucella attempted to walk around the other shopper's cart, but the other patron moved it and she collided with it. Wakefern Food Corp. was dismissed from the case before trial.

Injury:

Brucella was taken by ambulance to a local hospital after the accident, where she was diagnosed with a fracture of her right hip. She underwent open reduction internal fixation surgery with the installation of a rod. Brucella claimed she continues to have pain and difficulty walking. The defense argued that Brucella had an excellent result from surgery and her treating doctor discharged her from his care with no limitations. The parties entered into a high/low agreement of $200,000-$20,000.

Result:

The jury found that the defendant was not negligent. Because of the high/low agreement, the plaintiff received $20,000 from the defendant.

Trial Information:

Judge:

Lisa Perez-Friscia

Trial Length:

3  days

Trial Deliberations:

45  minutes

Editor's Comment:

This report is based on information that was provided by plaintiff's counsel and defense counsel.