Slip and fall cases in Georgia have been achieving some record results lately in the courtroom. A Gwinnett County, Georgia jury returned a verdict for the amount of $2.3 million to compensate the plaintiff of a slip and fall lawsuit against the Kroger Company after a judge determined that the supermarket destroyed and manipulated video evidence. The plaintiff fell onto his back when he slipped on crushed fruit that was on the floor of the deli section of the store.
The 49-year-old suffered a serious injury to his spinal cord calling for the surgical insertion of numerous rods and screws to stabilize the herniated discs in his spine. His medical bills came to approximately $135,000 and he was not able to work. Prior to the accident, the plaintiff worked as a commercial landscaper.
The attorneys of the defendant originally maintained that the store’s video footage from the time of the accident had been taped over because the videos are only kept for 17 days if there is no reason to keep them longer. They also claimed that the video cameras were not positioned to record the area where the accident happened, and they presented images taken from the camera to illustrate their claim.
However, while the manager was giving a statement at the store during a deposition, the plaintiff’s attorneys asked him to demonstrate for them the store’s video surveillance system. The manager’s demonstration proved that the camera was in fact recording the site where the defendant fell. Therefore, the camera caught everything from when the fruit fell to the floor, how long it was on the floor, and the defendant slipping and falling.
The destruction of evidence is a very real danger in cases where someone has been seriously hurt and the defendant company feels as if they have been negligent and the tape captures this negligence. In order to protect against this unethical behavior, the plaintiffs’ lawyer should send out a notice to the other side informing them of the claims and demanding that all evidence be preserved. Once this is done, destruction of the evidence will not help the defendant, as the law places a presumption that the evidence was harmful to the defendants if they destroy it after being put on notice by the plaintiffs to preserve it. The presumption is just one of many remedies that the trial judge can fashion in such a situation. The important thing is to create the situation by putting the defendants on notice and allowing them to continue to destroy evidence even after the plaintiff has notified them of the need to preserve it.
Attorney Robert J. Fleming has been handling wrongful death cases, automobile accident cases, personal injury cases, dental malpractice and medical malpractice lawsuits for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of another for more than 20 years in and around Atlanta, Georgia and its surrounding areas, including Alpharetta, Austell, Avondale Estates, Chamblee, College Park, Conyers, Duluth, Decatur, Doraville, Hapeville, Johns Creek, Jonesboro, Lawrenceville, Norcross, Peachtree City, Riverdale, Roswell, Sandy Springs, Stone Mountain, and Smyrna. If you have been seriously injured and would like quality legal representation, contact Robert J. Fleming directly on (404) 525-5150 or contact us online.