Mediator assigned to case over dropped couch

Michelle Massey, East Texas Bureau Sep. 26, 2007, 5:36am

Michael Patterson

MARSHALL -- James Parks just wanted to pick up his new couch, but claims he came home with bodily injuries and a lawsuit. Now a mediator will step in to cushion the dispute between Parks and furniture outlet.

Tyler mediator Michael Patterson was assigned to Parks' case against Furniture Row Outlet Store. Both parties requested Patterson and Magistrate Judge Everingham referred the case to the requested mediator on Sept. 12.

Parks filed a personal injury lawsuit against Furniture Row USA and Furniture Row Outlet on May 15 in the Marshall Division of the Eastern District of Texas.

Parks states that he went to the Furniture Row Outlet store to pick up his couch on June 15, 2005. The store's employees told Parks to go to the loading dock and employees would load the couch into Park's truck. When loading the couch Parks claims "they negligently caused the couch to fall and strike the plaintiff."

The plaintiff is seeking damages for physical pain and impairment, mental anguish, medical expenses, disfigurement, lost wages and loss of earning capacity.

Parks alleges that the defendants did not use ordinary case while transporting and loading his couch and failed to warn customers regarding the dangers associated with loading furniture. Further, Parks states the defendants failed to hire competent employees, supervise its employees, implement workplace safety policies regarding loading and transporting merchandise.

The plaintiff's original petition states that the defendants were negligent "by allowing or requiring customers to be exposed to the dangers of falling objects without providing them proper warning or protection."

Defendant Furniture Row Outlet admits Parks was at the store to pick up a couch at the time of the alleged incident, but denies any further allegations.

In addition, Furniture Row USA says it is not a proper party in the litigation, because while it is the owner of the building it does not own or operate Furniture Row Outlet.

Mediator Michael Patterson has 20 years experience as a trial lawyer in state and federal courts and for the past 10 years has operated Mike Patterson Mediation in Tyler. His Web site says Patterson has conducted more than 1,300 mediations as of March 2007.

The parties have until Oct. 31 to complete mediation. If unsuccessful, jury selection is set to occur on April 7, 2008.

Austin attorney Daniel Christensen of the Carlson Law Firm represents James Parks.

Magistrate Judge Charles Everingham is presiding.

Case No.: 2:07cv00185

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