Slip-and-fall suit is all wet

The SE Texas Record Sep. 13, 2008, 4:15pm

It's a damp lawsuit for the rainy season.

While the Golden Triangle suffers from yet another hurricane threat, Adrienne Casimire is suing a Beaumont McDonald's because she allegedly slipped and fell at the restaurant.

Rainwater made it slippery out, she was shocked to discover.

"It had been raining for a considerable time... (but) there were no warning signs, no wet floor signs and no non-slip surface or rug in place to warn plaintiff," reads her complaint, filed this week in Jefferson County court.

We see so-called "slip-and-fall" cases all the time. This one caught our eye given the circumstances and the contributing offender: Mother Nature.

Maybe infants nurtured in Arizona aren't in tune with the perils of walking in the rain. Perhaps a desert-dweller wouldn't be aware that, when each step splashes, its a signal to take care. But in steamy and subtropical Southeast Texas?

When you know "it had been raining for a considerable time" and you're exiting your car onto soaked surfaces, shouldn't that cue caution?

Casimire doesn't think so. According to her lawyer, Kenneth Lewis, she's a victim because McDonald's failed to issue a warning: the ground is slippery when it rains. Her lawsuit demands financial damages for medical expenses--she hurt her back and knees, she claims-- as well as money for "past and future mental anguish."

According to the National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI), slip-and-fall claims like this one are more than just silly. They're expensive.

The NFSI says on average, it costs a company like McDonald's $50,000 to defend a lawsuit like this one. And if it goes to trial, the price tag soars to about $100,000. It begs the obvious question: how much might Casimire want to drop her case and go away?

Settling is one sad but expedient solution to a nuisance like this. It also could be viewed as an incentive for lawyers not unlike Lewis to file more of these slip and falls. Here's hoping our fellow Texans aren't tempted to take that route.

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