Man sues Wal-Mart alleging slip on wet mat led to surgeries

Michelle Massey, East Texas Bureau Jan. 26, 2010, 3:51am

MARSHALL -- Wal-Mart should continue to warn customers about wet floors even after the rain has stopped and the pavement has dried, an East Texas man claims in a personal injury suit against the mega-retailer.

After an early morning rain, Phil Fox says he ventured to Wal-Mart around lunch time to do some shopping. According to court papers, it was a nice summer day, the sun was shining and the parking lot and walkways showed no traces of the rain.

As he walked through the entrance, Fox says he stepped on the long mats on the entryway floor and slipped. He states he contorted his body to prevent falling to the floor after he slipped.

When a store greeter came over to offer help, Fox claims he asked where the "wet floor" warning signs were. The greeter pointed toward the exit doors but Fox claims there were no signs warning of the dangerously wet floor.

Alleging negligence and premises liability, Phil and Wendy Fox filed a personal injury lawsuit against Wal-Mart Stores on Jan. 22 in the Marshall Division of the Eastern District of Texas.

"Wal-Mart knew or should have known that once the rain stops and the pavement is dry outside and customers enter the store and step on the wet mats and then step on dry floor, the soles of the customers' shoes will become wet and create an unreasonable risk of harm for customers when they step on dry floor," the lawsuit states.

After the incident, the Wal-Mart greeter gave Fox a chair to sit in so he could recover. Fox claims that shortly after the incident, Wal-Mart employees placed two "wet floor" signs back into the entry way.

The plaintiff states Wal-Mart was negligent for "having a condition on the premises that posed an unreasonable risk of harm." According to the complaint, the store should have known the dangers of the wet mat, failed to exercise ordinary care, failed to adequately warn of the condition and failed to make the condition reasonably safe.

Fox states that the incident caused him to severely injure his neck, elbow and lower back, eventually resulting in surgeries to correct his injuries.

Fox and his wife are seeking more than $75,000 in damages for medical expenses, loss of earnings, loss of earning capacity, physical impairment, pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of consortium and loss of household services. A jury trial is requested.

Longview attorneys Blake C. Erskine of Erskine and McMahon LLP and Austin attorneys Blake C. Erskine Jr. and Mark B. Blackburn of Erskine and Blackburn LLP are representing the plaintiffs.

U.S. District Judge David Folsom will preside over the litigation.

Case No 2:10cv00027

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