The wrong store

By The SE Texas Record | Dec 6, 2011

In Alfred Hitchcock's "The Wrong Man," Henry Fonda plays an honest, hardworking husband and father who suddenly finds himself accused of armed robbery.

Based on a true story, the film depicts the devastating effects that his arrest and prosecution have on the misidentified man and his family. Not until the film's end is Fonda finally cleared by the apprehension of the real culprit, an astonishingly close lookalike. By then, the damage has been done and Fonda and his movie family will never be the same.

The characters who accuse Fonda in the film do so in good faith. They are not motivated by malice. They honestly believe that he is the one who committed the robbery. A final scene, showing Fonda and the lookalike standing side by side in a police lineup, makes clear that the whole unfortunate affair was a simple but tragic case of mistaken identity.

We wonder if the same can be said of a case involving a store falsely accused of liability for a personal injury.

Rita Ghirardi of Huntsville claims she was injured in a Dickinson parking lot in May 2009 when she slipped and fell.

Ghirardi filed suit against Dixie Partners II LP and Big D Properties Inc. last December, charging that "the defect in the parking lot pavement constituted a dangerous condition" for which the two companies are liable. In February of this year, she revised the complaint to include Stage Stores.

Whether the original suit had any merit or not, there was a problem with the addition of the third defendant: Stage Stores does not have an outlet at the location in question. It does not do business there. Apparently, Ghirardi confused it with a different company.

With the error brought to her attention, Ghirardi subsequently motioned to remove Stage Stores from the suit.

In the meantime, damage was done. An innocent company was forced to defend itself at its own expense. No lookalike in this case to help explain the error. Where's the justice in that?

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