Suit alleges Wal-Mart floor mats unreasonably dangerous

Michelle Massey, East Texas Bureau May 21, 2009, 4:49am

MARSHALL � While entering the Wal-Mart in Longview, Barbara Allen tripped on a floor mat and fell. Allen claims the cause of her fall was an unreasonably dangerous and defective floor mat.

Six weeks after the incident, Barbara and Billy W. Allen filed suit against The Matworks Company LLC and Wal-Mart Stores Texas LLC on May 20 in the Marshall Division of the Eastern District of Texas.

The plaintiffs allege that similar accidents and injuries are common at the store.

"Wal-Mart had such problems with the mats that on previous occasions they had in fact used duct tape to secure the mats to the floor to keep them from rolling up and becoming the trip hazard that Wal-Mart knew that they had a propensity to be," the lawsuit states.

Allen alleges Wal-Mart is negligent for failing to maintain the floor and continuing to use a floor mat that it knew to be defective and unreasonably dangerous to the public.

Causes of action filed against defendant The Matworks include strict liability and negligence.

The lawsuit alleges that the floor mat, manufactured by The Matworks, "was not reasonably safe, and not reasonably safe for its intended use."

Further, the complaint states that the floor mat did not comply with The Matworks' safety standards or industry safety standards. Allen argues that the defendant had a duty to warn or give notice of the floor mat's condition and qualities.

The plaintiffs are seeking more than $75,000 damages for medical expenses, physical impairment, pain and suffering, mental anguish, physical disfigurement and loss of consortium.

The plaintiffs are also seeking punitive damages, arguing that the defendants "had actual, subjective, awareness of the risk involved, but nevertheless proceeded with the conscious indifference to the rights, safety, or welfare of Barbara Allen, and others similarly situated."

For more than 40 years, The Matworks Company has supplied and installed flooring to national retail chains. On the its Web site, the company recognizes the concern of slip and falls and offers products that have slip resistant features or specifically designed to reduce the incidents.

"Slips can occur due to personal negligence, types of shoes being worn, weather hazards, and occasional spills; all of which are out of the retailer's control," the site states.

"Falls can also occur with uneven flooring surfaces, loose tiles or mats, and carpets that are wrinkling or curling around the edges.
However, the slips that occur due to oily and/or wet floors or low degree of traction in flooring can be prevented by a flooring change."

Longview attorney Blake C. Erskine of the law firm Erskine and McMahon LLP and attorney Dan Stroup are representing the plaintiffs.

U.S. District Judge T. John Ward will preside over the litigation.

Case No 2:2009cv00161

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