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Directed Verdict for Fortune 100 Retailer in Premises Liability Case

July 16, 2021 – Press Release

July 16, 2021 (Houston, TX) – Hawkins Parnell & Young secured a directed verdict on behalf of a home improvement and building supplies retailer in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas. Austin partner Amy Welborn and Dallas partner-in-charge Troy Helling of Hawkins Parnell represented the client.

Plaintiff is a contractor who dropped lumber on himself while shopping at the store. He claimed to suffer severe injuries with ongoing pain to his head and shoulder, loss of strength in his hand, and vision loss. Plaintiff alleged that the incident occurred because the area was dangerous and not shoppable. He also claimed that an employee refused to help him and was discriminatory.

Hawkins Parnell countered the allegations against the client, showing that the product was in a safe and shoppable area with proper warnings and ladders available for use. During cross-examination, Amy obtained testimony from the plaintiff that the lumber was stable and that he caused the wood to fall by pulling a board from the middle of the stack. Plaintiff also admitted that he had no lingering medical issues or physical limitations. In addition, the defense argued that the plaintiff was in a rush to a job site and chose not to wait for the employee preoccupied with an activity crucial for store safety.

The judge granted a directed verdict in favor of the retailer against gross negligence claims and future damages. The jury deliberated for a little more than one hour, finding no evidence of negligence by Hawkins Parnell's client.