Family Dollar asserts injured plaintiff on 'fishing expedition'
Despite defense objections that the plaintiff is on a fishing expedition, a local judge has ordered testimony from a worker's compensation expert in a premises liability case.
As previously reported, Mary Jane Walters filed suit against Family Dollar on Jan. 12, 2011, in Jefferson County District Court, claiming falling merchandise forced her to take evasive action and twist her ankle.
Court papers show that Family Dollar has refused to provide an expert, so on June 29 Walters filed a motion to compel the testimony of a person most knowledgeable about worker's compensation RSD claims with the company, court records show
RSD, or regional pain syndrome, is a nerve disorder that occurs most often in the arms or legs after a minor injury.
Family Dollar filed a response on July 6, asserting that the motion strains to tie the suit to a worker's compensation claim even though it is a premises liability case, court papers say.
The response calls the plaintiff's request a "fishing expedition" and asked that the court deny the motion.
Nonetheless, Judge Bob Wortham, 58th District Court, granted the motion on July 9, according to a courthouse official.
Court records also show that on June 13 Walters filed a motion to compel and motion for sanctions, requesting that the court force Family Dollar to produce all information related to the hiring, findings and dealings of Kevin Hamill, an investigator who took video surveillance footage of the plaintiff.
A hearing on the matter was held June 18. Judge Wortham did not issue a ruling.
The lawsuit alleges that on Sept. 11, 2009, Walters was shopping at the Family Dollar on 11th Street in Beaumont when a box of merchandise tumbled from a shelf and fell on her.
In the midst of trying to dodge "picture frames and other items," Walters twisted her knees and right ankle, the suit states.
Instead of offering her assistance, Walters alleges a store employee told her she "was lucky that she didn't get hit by the big mirror back there" and that "merchandise was always falling from that area of the store," the suit states.
Walters was already recovering from ankle surgery at the time of the incident.
She alleges Family Dollar negligently failed to inspect and maintain its premises and warn shoppers of the dangerous condition.
Walters is suing the company for her alleged past and future medical expenses, mental anguish, pain, impairment, disfigurement and lost wages.
The Law Offices of Gilbert T. Adams in Beaumont represents her.
Attorneys Zach Mayer, Robin R. Gant and Joshua M. Sandler of the Dallas law firm Kane Russell Coleman & Logan represent Family Dollar.
Case No. E189-146