Crying over spilled milk -- all the way to the bank

The SE Texas Record Mar. 26, 2011, 8:56am

In Shadow of the Thin Man, hard-drinking detective Nick Charles (played with peerless panache by William Powell) is exhorted by his young son to put aside his customary cocktail at the dinner table and drink milk instead.

Giving the glass a glum glance, Powell remarks, "It's awfully white, isn't it?"

And so it is. Whole, low-fat, or skim, milk remains "awfully white." It's not something you could fail to recognize or mistake for something else, and when it's spilled it makes an "awfully white" mess.

Water, lemonade, and other clear or light-colored beverages might spill and go unnoticed, but milk is hard to overlook – if you're paying attention.

But Bridget Brown managed to miss it, she claims in a slip-and-fall lawsuit filed in Orange Country District Court late in January and since transferred to the Beaumont Division of the Eastern District.

Brown says she slipped on spilled milk at the Wal-Mart store in Orange last December and injured her back and hip when she fell. She and her husband, Michael, are suing the store for damages. They want to be compensated for Bridget's physical pain and suffering, mental anguish, medical bills, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, physical impairment, disfigurement, etc. – and for Michael's loss of household services and consortium.

The Browns claim Wal-Mart was negligent in failing to remediate the dairy danger or divert customers from the homogenized hazard. After all, there was a bunch of milk on the floor. How could it be missed?

Especially in the milk aisle, where milk spills are most likely to occur.

Maybe Wal-Mart employees weren't as wary as they might have been.

Maybe the store should field hazmat crews to canvass the store looking for whitefields and setting up superfund sites on a moment's notice. Maybe Wal-Mart should hire docents to point out perils to accident-prone customers. Or maybe the Bridget Browns of the world should look where they going.

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