A jury awarded $1.6 million on Friday to an 85-year-old man in a suburban supermarket slip-and-fall case, including $1 million in punitive damages.
Attorneys for Christopher Armstrong-Stevenson, who was 84 at the time of the accident, argued to the jury that the Safeway chain that owns the store needed to be sent a message about the need to take customer safety more seriously. They also contended that the company engaged evasive tactics, including failing to preserve video surveillance footage despite a request to do so, reports the Oregonian.
“No matter what the company, if someone gets hurt in your business, you have to investigate,” juror Jessica Lewis told the newspaper. “We didn’t see anything set up after the fact to say, ‘Hey, we learned our lesson. Here’s what happened, and here’s how we changed to make things better.’ “
Armstrong-Stevenson was represented in the case by attorneys Greg and Jason Kafoury.
Armstrong-Stevenson, who broke his femur in the fall, says ongoing problems with the leg he broke prevent him from engaging in his standard activities. Those included weeding his garden, holding his great-grandchildren and riding in an airplane to see his family. He anticipates needing to sell his home due to his instability on its stairs, the newspaper reports.
Counsel for Safeway had argued that a $132,000 payment to the plaintiff was fair. Safeway contended that the plaintiff was simply suffering from problems of advancing old age, and said that that he couldn’t really believe the store in St. Helens was dangerous or he wouldn’t have shopped there more than 100 times in the past year.
The $132,000 award that Safeway sought included $82,000 in medical and therapy expenses and $50,000 for pain and suffering.
The jury in the Multnomah County Circuit Court case awarded $102,000 in medical and therapy expenses, $525,000 for pain and suffering and $1 million in punitive damages.
Under state law, 70 percent of a punitive damages award goes to a crime victims’ compensation fund and courthouse building improvements, the article notes.
There’s no word about whether Safeway plans to appeal the verdict.