Florida Business Establishment Liability for Personal Injuries Caused by Broken Chairs

stools.jpgBusiness establishments owe patrons the duty of ordinary and reasonable care with respect to their safety. See Economy Cash & Carry Cleaners, Inc. v. Gitlin, 1 So.2d 191 (Fla. 1941), and our blog, Status Determines Duty in Florida Premises Liability Cases. To meet this duty with regard to chairs made available to patrons, the establishment must select bullet-proof, industrial grade chairs able to withstand heavy use by heavy people, or have an effective inspection and maintenance procedure in place. See, Fontana v. Wilson World Maingate Condominium, 717 So.2d 199 (Fla. 5th DCA 1998) (The court decided that the jury could have found that the owner’s ostrich like approach to the safety of its premises did not meet its obligations to its invitees.)

The bullet-proof argument counters the defense expert testimony that a thorough inspection would not have revealed when the chair would collapse. Having an industrial strength chair avoids this “Russian Roulette” scenario.

Our firm is currently handling a chair-break case against Walgreens. As our client went to sit on a stool at the photo processing counter, it collapsed underneath her, causing her to tumble backwards and strike her head on the tile floor. She was transported by ambulance to Aventura Hospital. Eight months of medical care for headaches, neck and back pain, costing more than $20,000, followed. We expect Walgreens to pay the medical expenses and compensate our client for lost wages and pain and suffering. Relying on the propositions set forth above, we believe that the accident is indefensible.
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