Kelly Hendrickson was shopping for palm trees at a Lowe’s home improvement store in July 2013 when the Las Vegas woman slipped on a wet concrete floor and hit her head.
Hendrickson later sued Lowe’s Home Centers for negligence, and her lawyers plan to seek hefty punitive damages in the case, which went to trial this week. They said about 30 other people were injured after falling in Lowe’s garden centers in Clark County during the previous five years, but the company did nothing to correct the hazard.
“If this was an isolated fall, we would not be here suing Lowe’s,” attorney Sam Harding told a jury Wednesday.
Harding represents Hendrickson and her husband, Scott, in the case. Attorney Al Lasso, who also represents the couple, said Lowe’s Home Centers net $3.6 billion a year, so the couple’s lawyers plan to ask for an amount of punitive damages “that will get their attention.”
“That amount will most likely be in the nine figures,” Lasso told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
But first, the lawyers must convince jurors that the company’s negligence caused Kelly Hendrickson’s injuries. Harding said the 38-year-old mother of three fractured her skull and suffered a brain injury that caused her to lose her senses of smell and taste forever.
Attorney Esther Holm, who represents Lowe’s, said the other falls occurred at 13 different stores in Clark County. She said only three during that five-year period occurred at the Lowe’s at 5050 S. Fort Apache Road, where Kelly Hendrickson fell.
Holm said evidence will show that the company “has an excellent safety record.”
“The odds are one in a million of a slip and fall in a Lowe’s garden center in a year,” she told jurors.
The lawyer said Lowe’s had placed a 4-foot-tall caution cone in the area to warn customers about the water on the floor.
“She actually fell on top of the caution cone,” Holm said. “She actually knocked it over herself.”
The lawyer told jurors the company’s conduct in the case was “very reasonable,” and Kelly Hendrickson had an obligation to look where she was going.
Harding said Lowe’s had about 30 cameras recording activity in and around the store where Kelly Hendrickson fell but failed to preserve any of the videos. Holm said none of the cameras captured the fall itself.
District Judge Ron Israel is presiding over the trial, which is expected to last through next week.
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