FAIRBANKS (AP) -- An attorney for a woman who fell while entering a Carrs grocery store three years ago claimed Tuesday that store employees failed to take adequate precautions to protect customers.
Attorney David Carlson made the accusation in his opening statement in a civil negligence suit filed by Joann Seurer.
Seurer, now 34, walked into the Carrs supermarket and fell on a snowy day in October 1997.
Carrs contends that Seurer's slip was her own fault due to her not taking adequate precautions.
''Carrs had a legal duty and a moral obligation to provide a reasonable, safe area,'' said Seurer attorney David Carlson. ''The evidence will show that Carrs failed to meet its own maintenance standards.''
Carlson said the floor in the store's entry, as well as several throw rugs placed in the area, were wet and presented a hazard. Carrs' policy, he said, was to only have one janitor on hand to sweep and mop three entryways. He said that was impossible job on wet or snowy days.
Carlson said Seurer suffered a fractured elbow and permanent knee damage that has led to two operations and will lead to more. He also said she was unable to continue her job as a convenience store clerk.
Seurer seeks more than $100,000 in medical expenses and lost wages, both present and future, plus an unspecified additional sum for pain, suffering, and inconvenience.
Robert Groseclose, representing Carrs, said the store adequately warned customers of the wet area and that Seurer was negligent in her actions because she wore bedroom slippers into the store.
''She chose this as a footwear on a snowy day in Fairbanks,'' he said.
Groseclose said Seurer wore slippers because she had had foot surgery for a puncture wound two days before the incident, after which her doctor had advised her to keep the foot elevated, dry and clean for 24 to 48 hours.
''This is what greeted Mrs. Seurer as she walked into the store,'' Groseclose said as he gestured to a 3-foot tall wet floor warning cone.
Groseclose also said Seurer had already had knee and elbow surgery and had also suffered injuries in several other falls before the accident. He contended that her medical bills were to some extent the result of pre-existing conditions.
He also argued that Seurer's knee problems were due in no small part to her obesity at the time. ''Her cartilage was wearing out,'' he noted. ''She had to lose weight.''
The trial is expected to last eight days.
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