Slip-and-fall at Chick-fil-A lands plaintiff $30k verdict

By David Yates | May 12, 2008

Chick-fil-A in Parkdale Mall

When Theresa Wilson fell at a Chick-fil-A, she went to go see a trial lawyer instead of a doctor. The decision paid off, literally, as jurors awarded her $25,000 in mental anguish damages Monday, May 12.

Wilson, who on the instruction of her lawyer went to go see his suggested chiropractor, also received $5,000 in medical expenses.

The trial of Wilson v. Chick-fil-A began May 6 in Judge Donald Floyd's 172nd District Court.

Wilson had journeyed to the Chick-fil-A nestled inside the food court at Parkdale Mall on Oct. 7, 2003, just a few minutes before the restaurant opened. But before she could order, Wilson's feet came up from underneath her, causing her to hit the floor "hard," according to her attorney, Joseph Jannise.

In his opening remarks, Jannise told jurors the store's floor had recently been cleaned with a greasy mop, a dangerous condition Chick-fil-A's managers were aware of, yet still negligently flipped on the "open" sign without posting "wet floor signs."

In rebuttal, defense attorney Kyle Hawes had contended the floor had been cleaned the night before, not that morning.

Throughout the trial, Hawes called into question the truth of Wilson's entire story.

"The truth before you will show this was a staged fall," Hawes told jurors. "The evidence will show that Mrs. Wilson fell down twice."

However, jurors were not swayed by Hawes' argument or evidence, finding the fast food establishment 100 percent negligent.

During the trial, eye witnesses testified that they saw two different types of falls, no witnesses testified that they saw Wilson fall twice.

Some eye witnesses said they saw Wilson fall to one knee, while others saw her feet came up from underneath her, and one witness testified that he saw Wilson hit her head on the way down.

However, one undisputable fact is that Wilson, after falling, sought the services of an attorney, not a doctor, said Hawes.

Hawes told jurors Wilson went to the Sutton & Jacobs law firm after the incident. And in turn, the law firm referred her to a chiropractor, who testified on the nature of Wilson's injuries.

Wilson's suit was filed in the Jefferson County District Court on Oct. 6, 2005, two years following the her slip and fall.

In its response to Wilson's suit, Chick-fil-A's answer argued any injuries Wilson suffered were due to her own negligence and that her suit against the company was a fraud.

Hawes is an attorney for the Chamberlain, Hrdlicka, White, Williams & Martin law firm.

Case No. E175-880

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