Make us your home page

As 'slip and fall' lawsuits blossom, basic items become dangerous hazards

Consumers beware: Hand sanitizer, fried potatoes, champagne, napkins, urine and a host of other everyday substances are lurking to land you on your keister.

At least that's what it feels like plowing through a pile of "slip and fall" lawsuits filed in Hillsborough and Pinellas courts. In these filings, everyday items become hazards blamed for causing people across Tampa Bay to slip, fall and suffer injuries in places ranging from an Outback Steakhouse restaurant and Target store to a museum and skateboard park.

The lawsuits claim owner negligence.

No doubt the recent recession aggravated things. Businesses pressed by hard times grew less vigilant about cleaning floors or warning customers of hazards. On the flip side, financially struggling patrons smelled opportunity in slippery floor mishaps.

But, come on, people. Reading some of these lawsuits, it's a wonder any of us make it through the day without contemplating litigation against somebody for something.

"Slip and fall" lawsuits is a loaded phrase. It reeks of too many TV-hyped lawyers seeking plaintiffs to sue over basic accidents. But let's be fair: Not all such legal claims are undeserving.

Frivolous or legit? You can get a sense from this sampling of recent cases:

• Angelina Nepa says she slipped on hand sanitizer and fell while at the Glazer Children's Museum this summer. She says she "neither saw the hand sanitizer nor any cautionary signs before she fell."

• Shopper Khaduah Nashagh says she was at a Tampa Walmart when she slipped and fell on a "fried potato" near the cash register. Nashagh says she sustained permanent injuries and a reduced ability to lead a normal life or earn money.

• Nearing his 76th birthday, Palmetto resident Carl Miller joined his family for dinner at an Outback Steakhouse in Plant City. Waiting for a table at the bar, Miller reached for his beverage when his bar stool allegedly slipped on a floor covered with grease. He fell backward and broke his neck. He died two weeks later.

• Nancijane McHenry says she was at a Target in Brandon when she slipped on what she thought was urine and fell. She allegedly suffered hospitalization, medical expenses, and a loss of earnings.

• Randy McAdoo says he was skateboarding at the SkatePark of Tampa when an unnamed employee began spraying champagne. McAdoo alleges he was seriously injured when he slipped and fell on the bubbly brew.

• Rocio Doherty was at the Acropolis in Riverview when its staff began dancing and "negligently and dangerously" tossing napkins into the air, as they do at all of the Greek restaurant chain's locations. While the staff typically sweeps up afterward, Doherty later slipped on a stray napkin and suffered "severe" injuries, including a fractured kneecap that required two surgeries.

Proving negligence is no slam dunk. Did the owner fail to clean up a slippery floor in a timely manner or was there simply insufficient time to do so before the fall? Could a reasonable customer see a floor hazard and be more responsible to avoid slipping?

Sometimes it really boils down to being more careful out there.

See you in court.

Robert Trigaux can be reached at [email protected]

As 'slip and fall' lawsuits blossom, basic items become dangerous hazards 10/07/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 8, 2013 12:21am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Carrollwood fitness center employs scientific protocol to help clients


    In 2005, Al Roach and Virginia Phillips, husband and wife, opened 20 Minutes to Fitness in Lakewood Ranch, and last month they opened the doors to their new location in Carrollwood.

    Preston Fisher, a personal fitness coach at 20 Minutes To Fitness, stands with an iPad while general manager/owner Angela Begin conducts an equipment demonstration. The iPad is used to track each client's information and progress. I also included one shot of just the equipment. The center recently opened in Carrollwood. Photo by Danielle Hauser.
  2. Olive Tree branches out to Wesley Chapel


    WESLEY CHAPEL — When it came time to open a second location of The Olive Tree, owners John and Donna Woelfel, decided that Wesley Chapel was the perfect place.

    The Olive Tree expands its offerings of "ultra premium?€ extra virgin olive oils (EVOO) to a second location in Wesley Chapel. Photo by Danielle Hauser.
  3. Massachusetts firm buys Tampa's Element apartment tower

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — Downtown Tampa's Element apartment tower sold this week to a Massachusetts-based real estate investment company that plans to upgrade the skyscraper's amenities and operate it long-term as a rental community.

    The Element apartment high-rise at 808 N Franklin St. in downtown Tampa has been sold to a Northland Investment Corp., a Massachusetts-based real estate investment company. JIM DAMASKE  |  Times
  4. New York town approves Legoland proposal


    GOSHEN, N.Y. — New York is one step closer to a Lego dreamland. Goshen, a small town about fifty miles northwest of the Big Apple, has approved the site plan for a $500 million Legoland amusement park.

    A small New York town, Goshen approved the site plan for a $500 million Legoland amusement park. Legoland Florida is in Winter Haven. [Times file  photo]
  5. Jordan Park to get $20 million makeover and new senior housing

    Real Estate


    Times Staff Writer

    ST. PETERSBURG —The St. Petersburg Housing Authority, which bought back the troubled Jordan Park public housing complex this year, plans to spend about $20 million to improve the 237-unit property and construct a new three-story building for …

    Jordan Park, the historic public housing complex, is back in the hands of the St. Petersburg Housing Authority. The agency is working to improve the 237-unit complex. But the latest plan to build a new three-story building for seniors will mean 31 families have to find new homes. [LARA CERRI   |   Tampa Bay Times]