Recently, a New York County Jury awarded over $45 million to a woman and her family for injuries sustained when she was struck by a Target shopping cart that was pushed from four stories high by two teenagers. In Hedges v. Target, plaintiff, a philanthropist was standing outside of a Costco store with her son paying for parking when the metal shopping cart fell almost 80 feet onto her. The cart was pushed from an elevated pedestrian platform that connected various stores within the complex.
Plaintiff went into cardiac arrest and suffered severe brain and neck injuries. She was in a coma for some time following the accident and suffered permanent brain damage. At the time of trial various defendants had settled out or been dismissed from the case and the trial proceeded with the defendant property owners and security company as well as the two juveniles who were convicted following the incident.
The trial went on for five weeks and the jury reached a verdict within only four hours of receiving instruction. The jury found that the property owners and security company were negligent as well as the juvenile offenders, with the bulk of the liability falling onto the various property owners of the shopping complex.
Reportedly, it was the testimony of plaintiff’s long time friend that solidified the verdict and proved to the jury just how significant plaintiff’s injuries were. Plaintiff’s friend testified at length about how the brain damage had changed plaintiff and the person she was before the accident. Coupled with the testimony of her physicians, the jury was persuaded awarding both plaintiff and her son and husband damages for past and future pain and suffering totaling over $45 million.
This is one of the higher verdicts to come down in recent time and one of the first for Judge St. George who is new to the Supreme Court. The decision shows just how persuasive lay testimony can be in a case where the injuries may be more subjective and not as easy to quantify through medical testimony. Attorneys for the defendants plan to appeal the denial of post trial motions to dismiss and for directed verdicts. Thanks to Dana Purcaro for her contribution to this post. Please email Brian Gibbons with any questions.