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Checkers loses slip injury suit

By Ingrid Oellermann

VERDICT: ‘One lonely cleaner’ was insufficient Pinetown woman Esme Lindsay yesterday welcomed a legal victory over the Checkers supermarket chain, which will be required to compensate her in respect of injuries she sustained when she slipped on an oily substance on a supermarket floor and fell in September 2005.

Lindsay had instituted a claim for damages of R465 000 against Checkers, but yesterday’s court order granted in her favour by Judge Nic van der Reyden did not deal with the quantum to be awarded, only with the question of liability.

The incident occurred at Checkers situated in St John’s Centre in Pinetown on the evening of September 16, 2005, when Lindsay popped into the store with the intention of buying some chicken fillets. She slipped on an oily patch on the floor in the fruit and vegetable section, and sustained permanent damage to her right arm.

Lindsay told The Witness she broke a bone in the elbow joint of her right arm and is now unable to straighten the arm. Her ability to use her right hand has also been affected.

A major blow to her at the time was her inability to help care for her 85-year-old invalid mother for quite a while after the accident, which caused her mother extreme distress, she said.

Lindsay told The Witness she felt she had been “appallingly” treated by Checkers management, which did not make good on promises to assist her after the incident. “For me it is a matter of principle. I felt very angry and also thought, what if it had been some older person?”

Lindsay, who runs her own business, said she does not have medical aid.

“I am very happy with the verdict and grateful to my attorney, Jennifer Anthoo, for her support and assistance. Unfortunately we have to go back to court again to argue about the amount and costs and I guess this could take another year to resolve,” said Lindsay.

Judge van der Reyden ruled in his judgment yesterday that the store in question had an inadequate cleaning system in place for a supermarket of its size.

The evidence revealed only one cleaner was on duty to deal with hazardous spillages in the shop, which had a floor space of 15 000 m2 and about 22 shopping aisles. The cleaner was supported by six staff “engaged in pricing and packing of merchandise”.

“It requires little imagination that for one lonely cleaner and six staff otherwise engaged to deal timely with hazardous spillages between 2 pm and 6 pm in a store of that size, is an impossibility,” the judge said.