After a local woman sustained a seriously debilitating injury at a department store in Somerset County last year, she and her husband are taking the company to court. On July 29th, Kathleen and Richard O’Malley, from Bernards Township, filed a lawsuit against Macy’s, and an unnamed maintenance company, personal injury attorneys in New Jersey say. The couple is seeking restitution for the medical bills and other expenses that have piled up since Kathleen’s accident.
According to the lawsuit, on November 3, 2011, Kathleen O’Malley was shopping at a local Macy’s in Somerset when she was injured by an allegedly unsafe display in the store. Although the suit does not detail how O’Malley was injured, or what type of injury she suffered, the couple is demanding that the company take care of the resulting medical expenses—X-rays, pharmaceutical costs, and hospitalization bills. They also ask that Macy’s make restitution for the future “pain, emotional distress, permanent disability, and loss of quality of life” that Kathleen will suffer.
In addition to his wife’s pain and suffering, Richard has also claimed that, as a result of the accident, he has suffered and will continue to suffer from the “emotional distress and the loss of the services, society, and consortium of his wife.” The O’Malleys have requested copies of the store’s video surveillance and photographs taken during the accident, the names and addresses of every employee working in the women’s clothing department where Kathleen was injured, and Macy’s insurance information.
Personal injury lawyers in New Jersey say that this lawsuit hinges on the level of responsibility Macy’s has to ensure the safety of its’ shoppers. In New Jersey, a company like a department store has the responsibility to maintain a safe environment that is open to the public, following the building’s specific safety codes and zoning requirements.
Department stores like Macy’s rely on mannequins and large, brightly colored displays on their floors, to catch the consumers’ eyes and attract them to the items on sale. These displays are often set up according to strict guidelines and floor plans, based on each store’s building design, and the demographic to which the particular store appeals. In order to prove this particular display was a hazard to shoppers, the O’Malleys will need to submit evidence that the conditions were unsafe, and that the Macy’s managers and employees should have known and taken the necessary precautions to protect their patrons.
In New Jersey, retail injuries are handled under the mode of operation approach, in which a retail establishment may offer evidence to support their innocence by demonstrating the precautions taken to avoid injury to their customers. This rule allows customers who suffer injuries due to inherent conditions in the store’s operation or display to file lawsuits without establishing that the store’s owner had constructive knowledge of the danger to their clients.
The personal injury attorneys at New Jersey-based law firm Helmer, Conley, and Kasselman, P.A., offer legal counsel and representation to anyone who has suffered injuries as a result of the negligence of a company or its employees.