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Premises Liability – Fall Down – Slip and fall on hanger in clothing store – Incident allegedly causes knee injury leading to knee replacement surgery – Plaintiff found 51% negligent.

Middlesex County, NJ

The plaintiff shopper contended that she slipped and fell on a hanger on the floor at the defendant’s clothing store. The plaintiff maintained that since shoppers can take clothes off the hangers, the mode of operation was such that knowledge should be presumed unless rebutted by the defendant. The court concurred with the plaintiff’s arguments and so instructed the jury.

The defendant maintained that the plaintiff negligently failed to make adequate observations and was overwhelmingly comparatively negligent. The court gave the so called ultimate outcome charge, instructing the jury that if the plaintiff was found more than 50% negligent, she could not prevail.

The plaintiff contended that she fell, suffering neck and back soft tissue injuries and a knee trauma that resulted in traumatic arthritis and culminated in the need for a total knee replacement. The defendant denied that the incident caused the claimed knee complaints and maintained that since the plaintiff fell backwards, she would not suffer such injury. The plaintiff countered that the twisting action that occurred as she fell was the cause of her knee injury.The jury found the defendant 49% negligent, the plaintiff 51% comparatively negligent, and a defense verdict was entered.

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