Sumter jury slams store

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 2, 2007

A Sumter County civil jury awarded an Emelle woman $750,000 March 23 after she was injured in a 2002 fall in the York Dollar General store, her lawyer said Wednesday.

Mary Alice Foy, who was represented by attorneys Taylor T. Perry, Jr. of Demopolis and Nathan Watkins, Jr. of Livingston, sustained “instability of the spine” when she slipped on spilled motor oil that had been covered by cat litter, but was not otherwise marked, Perry said.

The litter, he added, “was the exact, almost identical color of the floor, which made it blend in.”

Email newsletter signup

The jury awarded Foy $500,000 in compensatory damages, plus punitive damages of $250,000.

“When you break it down, it’s a very just award,” Perry said, noting the court allowed punitive damages in the case because “their conduct rose to level of wantonness, which is higher than negligence.”

“Ms. Foy will deal with this the rest of her life; she will have medical expenses the rest of her life; she will have pain for the rest of life.”

He added Foy has been diagnosed with clinical depression since the accident.

Perry said the civil trial turned on the testimony of the store’s manager, who “admitted that it was a dangerous condition,” and that other customers had been verbally warned of the hazard. The manager testified that it was company policy to block off or otherwise note the dangerous condition, but had not done so with the motor oil spill.

Representatives of Dollar General parent company DolGen Corp., its attorneys or the store manager could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

In testimony, eyewitnesses said it “sounded like a bomb went off” when Foy hit the floor after slipping.

Though Dollar General has the option to appeal the case, Perry said he feels comfortable that the verdict will hold up.

“I trust the decision of the Sumter County jury, and I am prepared to defend this case on appeal,” he said.