05282017Headline:

Fairfax, Leesburg & Loudoun, Virginia

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Doug Landau
Doug Landau
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Dog Poop Slip and Fall Case

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Having helped victims of dog attacks, those injured by dog bites and others needing back surgery as the result of slip and fall accidents, Doug Landau of the Herndon law firm ABRAMS LANDAU was intrigued by the Lawyers Weekly article "Dog Law Trifecta." In addition to the reported dog custody case and homeowner’s association election of a canine, Lawyers Weekly Editor Paul Fletcher noted a case set for trial in Norfolk where the plaintiff claimed to have been injured by poop at a Newport News PetSmart store.

The federal lawsuit alleged that pet store employees failed to scoop the poop, causing a customer to slip and injure himself. In some premises liability cases handled by the Landau Law Shop, the use of surveillance film, which is usually used to prosecute shoplifters, has helped to prove the case. Also, other shoppers’ testimony, photographs and physical evidence help support the injured person’s claim. It is unclear what evidence was used in this claim to overcome the strict Virginia defenses of "Assumption of the Risk," "Contributory Negligence" and "Proof of Notice to the Premises Operator" of the dangerous condition.

The national pet supply store and the customer reached an agreement to avoid trial, according to news reports. Terms of the U. S. District Court settlement were not disclosed. The plaintiff claimed that as he headed for the pet treats aisle, "my left foot slipped in a pile of dog feces that was not visible," Holloway said in a court affidavit. "Upon slipping in the feces, I grabbed a hold of my daughter forcefully and wrenched my back," he said. "The dog feces in question was not open and obvious." The plaintiff claimed he had to have back surgery, in part because of the fall on the feces, he said in the suit. He sued for one million dollars. PetSmart denied any wrongdoing and said Holloway did not fall down and was not injured as a result of slipping. The store’s attorney noted in a court filing that an employee was on her way to clean up the mess.

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    I practice in NC and when I saw this I was shocked the defendant made an offer to settle. First it would seem to the average person that the feces would be visible and thus the patron would be contributory negligent. Let alone you have to determine how long the dangerous condition was there to prove the store failed to remove the substance that caused the customer to slip and fall. Interesting to read of someone else’s success on what I would have thought was an unwinnable case.