Hall v. Kmart Corporation
Hall v. Kmart Corp., 764 F. Supp. 2d 1297 (M.D. Fla. 2011)
The Plaintiff alleged when she sat in a garden bistro chair on display at a Kmart store, the chair collapsed, resulting in various injuries. The Plaintiff weighed between 335 and 360 pounds at the time. She sued Kmart for strict liability, negligence, res ipsa loquitur and negligent failure to warn. The court agreed with Kmart, that the chair collapsing does not prove it was defective. Rather, other causes, such as the Plaintiff’s weight, could have been the cause of the collapse. The Plaintiff tried to circumvent the requirement of proving a defect by seeking application of res ipsa loquitur. Under that doctrine, a plaintiff is entitled to a rebuttable presumption of negligence when (1) the product is within the defendant’s exclusive control; (2) the injury was not the result of the plaintiff’s voluntary action; and (3) the accident would not have occurred but for the defendant’s failure to use reasonable care. But the court agreed with Mr. Forte that this doctrine did not apply. The chair was not within Kmart’s exclusive control because it was displayed for the public’s use. And the injury was in fact the result of the Plaintiff’s own action of sitting in a chair that was too small for her weight. The Court entered summary judgment in K-Mart's favor.