Visitor Question

Fell on chicken grease due to poorly designed container…

Submitted By: D (Clovis, CA)

A container at a major wholesale grocery store apparently fell from a customer’s filled cart, broke and left grease in a major aisle.

A store employee PROBABLY covered the spill with a 4X4 inch piece of cardboard without any warning sign to signal a hazard.

My disabled husband and I came upon that hazard which was blocking our path. It was in an isle so crowded with customers that we couldn’t walk around the cardboard.

Knowing that the wheels of the cart pushed by my husband would become entangled on the frayed edge of the cardboard, I picked it up and tossed it up on top of a stack of boxes, from which I assumed the cardboard had fallen.

Not yet looking down at the floor after hoisting the cardboard up on top, I took a step forward and slipped and fell in the chicken grease.

As we approached that piece of cardboard, we passed a store employee looking in the direction of that cardboard and talking to someone on his portable radio.

This employee ran up to me within seconds of my fall and helped me up.

He called someone on his phone, that person coming to me within 5 minutes or so to take my report of accident.

The store will not even admit they have in-house surveillance film of my accident, nor will they release a copy of the accident report I submitted.

Their insurance adjuster in one of her letters referred to the subject cardboard as a “spill sheet,” which sounds to me like the employee with the portable phone PROBABLY is the one who covered the spill and was standing by waiting for a cleanup that he had ordered by phone.

The current chicken rotisserie container is incapable of breaking when dropped to the floor.

In one of my letters to the insurance adjuster, I suggested that the container should be so designed.

Apparently, the adjuster took credit for giving the store such a risk alert.

My questions: Is the improper design of the chicken container a contributing factor in my accident? How can I get them to release their video footage and incident report? Thank you.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.


Dear D,

In your case, there are two parties who may be liable for your injuries and resulting damages. The first liable party is the store. The store had a legal duty of care to make sure its customers are safe from undue harm or injury. In this case, the stor’es duty of care extended to keeping the floor safe. The store wholly breached that duty.

The second liable party is the manufacturer of the container. This is referred to as a “defective product” or “product liability” claim. Manufacturers also have a duty of care to make their products safe for consumers. This includes implementing a proper and safe design of its product. While in this case liability may attach, the connection is a bit more tenuous.

To pursue a product liability claim will require the assistance of an experienced attorney. Product liability claims can be complex, and in most cases aren’t settled without filing a lawsuit. Moreover, these lawsuits require pretrial discovery, including depositions, interrogatories, etc. In addition, hiring expensive expert witnesses is often required.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Published: July 5, 2014

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