An Anderson, South Carolina who was pricked by needle in the parking lot of a Target has won what may be the largest award in the history of Anderson County, according to the Independent Mail.
After offering to settle the case for $12,000, plaintiff refused to accept Target’s counter offer of a measly $750. She took the case to trial, and it seems jurors wanted to send a message about failure to accept a reasonable settlement. Turns out, it was a $4.6 million message.
The incident happened in May 2014 in the Clemson Boulevard parking lot of the retail giant. Plaintiff parked her vehicle and as she stepped out, she saw her young daughter, who was 8-years-old at the time, picking up a hypodermic needle. She raced to her daughter’s side and swatted the needle from her daughter’s hand. As she did so, the needle stuck her in her right palm. In addition to being painful, plaintiff feared her exposure to contagious blood-borne diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis C.
She immediately went to the store to report the incident, but it doesn’t seem store workers had much sympathy. In a report prepared by a store manager, the employee wrote the customer, “seemed worried.” Obviously she was worried as she’d just been stuck by a strange needle. She had no idea who had used it before or what kind of condition that person may have had. Given that such needles are frequently used by heroin users, there would certainly be cause for concern.
Plaintiff was then treated at a local hospital. After a series of follow-up appointments, she tested negative for HIV and Hepatitis C. However as a precautionary measure, doctors recommended she undergo a powerful regimen of drugs so that she would not be susceptible to catching HIV. These drugs had an extremely adverse affect on her and for a time, she became bedridden. Her husband was forced to take off work to care for her during this time. Thankfully, she has continued to this day to test negative for those conditions.
She later sought compensation from the store for her medical bills and also the lost wages of her husband during the time he had to take off work. However, the chain refused, instead banking on taking the case to trial with what has historically been fairly conservative jurors.
It didn’t go quite the way the store planned. A spokesperson for the company said the firm is weighing a series of post-trial and appeals options.
Although some on comment sections and in social media platforms have wondered how the store could even be possible for such an injury, what it comes down to is premises liability. Businesses that invite patrons onto their property for the financial betterment of the property owner owe the highest duty of care to those customers. They have to ensure they are not put in harm’s way by existing dangerous conditions – or those that are reasonably foreseeable. When such conditions are present, property owners have a duty to warn. They also have a duty to make sure they are aware of existing dangers by regularly checking the property for hazards. This includes possible dangers in the parking lot.
Contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.
Jury: Anderson woman gets $4.6 million in Target lawsuit, Sept. 9, 2016, By Nikie Mayo, Independent Mail
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