A Capehart Scatchard Blog

Walmart Found Not Liable for Bodily Injury Caused by Unattended Shopping Cart

By on May 1, 2015 in Blog with 0 Comments

The 87 year old plaintiff, Anna Mae Bolge, was injured when she was struck by a wind-blown shopping cart in the parking lot of a Walmart. In Bolge v. Wal-mart Stores, Inc., 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10056 (D.N.J. Jan. 29, 2015), the plaintiff claimed that Walmart was negligent in the setup of its parking lot, which led to the creation of a dangerous condition that proximately caused the incident.

The entire incident was caught on video. A customer with a shopping cart arrived at a mini-van, which was parked in a handicapped spot. The customer then leaves the cart unattended and drives away. After the customer enters the vehicle, a Walmart cart-pusher enters the video on the right hand side. About 19 seconds after the mini-van pulls out of the parking spot, and 45 seconds from when the cart had been left unattended, the shopping cart began to move. Seconds later, it strikes the Plaintiff, knocking her to the ground. Thus, a total of 53 seconds elapsed from when the cart was left unattended until it struck the Plaintiff.

Plaintiff tried to allege a violation of the ADA, claiming that Walmart violated the ADA by not having a cart corral near the handicapped parking space. The court found that plaintiff cannot use the ADA as evidence of Walmart’s negligence. The ADA was enacted for the benefit of qualified disabled persons. The Plaintiff cannot obtain the ADA’s benefit in her negligence action, when the ADA did not apply to her in the first place.

The plaintiff also claimed that Walmart was negligent and breached its duty of care by allegedly failing to follow its inclement weather plan and only having one cart pusher outside on the day. Specifically, the Plaintiff contended that the setup of the lot led to the creation of a dangerous condition because, by not have a cart corral near the handicapped parking space, the disabled parkers are required to leave the carts in an area surrounding the parking space, which permits carts to be blown by the wind and injure patrons such as Plaintiff.

The Court rejected both of these arguments. It found both of them to be speculative. It was pure speculation that if Walmart followed the inclement weather plan, that a cart pusher would have been there at the exact second of Plaintiff’s injury. Further, it was also speculative that the Plaintiff would not have been injured if there was a cart corral near the handicapped spot. The Plaintiff assumed that a disabled person would be more likely to leave their cart next to their parking spot, rather than the nearest cart coral.

Moreover, the District Court pointed out that the Plaintiff must show that Walmart knew of the unsafe condition for a period of time prior to the Plaintiff’s injury sufficient to permit correction of it, or the condition had existed for a sufficient length of time prior to Plaintiff’s injury that, in the exercise of reasonable care, Walmart should have known of its existence and corrected it. The Court found that the 53 seconds that elapsed from the time the cart was left unattended until it struck the plaintiff cannot be deemed sufficient time to give Walmart notice of the alleged dangerous condition. Hence, the Court found that the Plaintiff failed to show that a genuine issue existed as to whether Walmart breached its duty of care and granted summary judgment as to Walmart, which dismissed the complaint.

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About the Author

About the Author:

Ms. Ramos is an Executive Committee Member and Co-Chair of the Litigation Department at Capehart Scatchard, P.A. located in Mount Laurel, New Jersey. She is an experienced litigator with over 25 years experience handling diverse matters. Practice areas include tort defense, business litigation, estate litigation, tort claims and civil rights defense, construction litigation, insurance coverage, employment litigation, shareholder disputes, and general litigation.

For the years 2020 and 2021, Ms. Ramos was selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© in the practice area of Litigation - Insurance. The attorneys on this list are selected based upon the consensus opinion of leading lawyers about the professional abilities of their colleagues within the same geographical area and legal practice area. A complete description of The Best Lawyers in America© methodology can be viewed via their website at: https://www.bestlawyers.com/methodology.

In 2021, Capehart Scatchard and Ms. Ramos received the “Best Law Firm” ranking in the area of Litigation – Insurance (Metro, Tier 3) published by U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers®. Law firms included on the list are recognized for professional excellence with consistently impressive ratings from clients and peers. To be eligible for a ranking, a firm must have at least one attorney who has been included in the current edition of Best Lawyers in America, which recognizes the top five percent of practicing lawyers in the United States. Betsy Ramos (Litigation – Insurance) was recognized for this prestigious award in the 2021 edition. For a description of the “Best Law Firm” selection methodology please visit: https://bestlawfirms.usnews.com/methodology.aspx.

“Best Law Firms” is published by Best Lawyers in partnership with U.S. News & World Report. For a description of the selection methodology please visit: https://bestlawfirms.usnews.com/methodology.aspx.

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