BJ’s Slip-and-Fall Suit Yields $1 Million Verdict in Middlesex County

A Middlesex County jury awarded $1 million in the case of a woman who sustained knee, hip and spinal injuries during a fall at a BJ’s Wholesale Club. The jury’s apportionment of fault to the plaintiff reduced the net verdict to $850,000 in the case.

According to court documents and counsel, on June 27, 2016, plaintiff was shopping at a BJ’s location on Route 17 North in East Rutherford when she slipped and fell on a wet floor in the frozen food section. She was hospitalized with right hip and knee pain, and a month later visited a chiropractor she had first seen following a June 2013 auto accident who said Plaintiff sustained several injuries in the fall: meniscus and cartilage damage in the right knee, tears in the right hip and shoulder, ankle sprain, and disc bulges and herniations at the lumbar level. Her treatments included knee and ankle surgery.

Plaintiff, currently 64, stopped working as a bus driver in 2016 as a result of her injuries, she alleged. The suit claimed $230,000 in medical bills and $122,000 in past and future lost wages, according to Caliendo. The suit named BJ’s as well as  a manager on duty at the East Rutherford store on the night of the incident.

The suit alleged that a broken water pipe caused water to accumulate on the floor, leading to the fall.

BJ’s contended that the plaintiff failed to demonstrate actual or constructive notice that there was a broken pipe or a dangerous condition, according to court documents.

The defense also contended that Plaintiff had a preexisting medical condition to which her injuries were attributable.

The eight-member jury unanimously found that BJ’s and its manager were negligent and proximately caused the accident by their negligence. The panel by a 7-1 vote apportioned 65% of the fault to BJ’s, 20% to its manager and 15% to Plaintiff. The panel, also by a 7-1 vote, awarded $175,000 for pain and suffering; $230,000 for past medical expenses; $200,000 for future medical expenses; $65,000 for past lost wages; $105,000 for future lost wages; and $225,000 for loss of services. The sum was reduced to $850,000 to account for the plaintiff’s negligence.

Original Article First Published in the New Jersey Law Journal 11/15/19