Senior awarded $48K after breaking hip in Superstore
Published Monday, January 3, 2011 3:49PM PST
A 78-year-old B.C. woman who tripped and broke her hip in a Real Canadian Superstore has been awarded $48,500 for her injuries.
Juanita Etson was grocery shopping with her daughter in Abbotsford in Nov. 2008 when her foot caught a split board protruding from the corner of a wooden pallet.
The Sicamous resident fell on her right side, breaking her hip. Surgeons inserted screws to repair the fracture, but the hardware failed within nine months and she eventually needed her entire hip replaced.
She sued the store for $90,000 plus special damages and future housekeeping costs.
In a decision posted on New Year's Eve, Supreme Court Justice Barbara Fisher ruled fault was split equally between Etson and the grocery giant.
While finding the company responsible for using a damaged display pallet, Fisher also ruled the accident "could have been avoided if Ms. Etson had paid more attention to where she was walking."
She also noted the large buckets of dishwasher detergent on the pallet were stacked inches away from the edge, increasing the likelihood of mishaps for those walking by, and that Etson could have been "looking at products displayed to catch her attention, and not looking down at her feet."
She found the grocery store liable under the Occupiers Liability Act, which states that a building's occupier must take reasonable care to ensure a safe environment.
Etson says she lived an active lifestyle before the fall and did her own housework, including gardening and snow shovelling. Etson testified the accident took away two years of her life and had a "profound effect" on her.
Though she has yet to fully heal, a doctor's report indicated she is unlikely to suffer further problems or disabilities once she does.
On top of her base claim of $90,000, Etson asked for $1,623.80 and $5,404 for the cost of a recliner chair and to replace Etson's bathtub with a walk-in tub and shower unit, respectively. The judge approved.
Etson's claims of $15,000 for future housekeeping and $10,000 for her sister's services cooking and cleaning for during her recovery were rejected.