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Menards appeals civil jury award

Menards is appealing an August 2019 civil jury verdict against it to the state supreme court. The jury awarded nearly $40,000 in damages plus $144,476.97 in attorney’s fees to an Underwood woman who fell over a flatbed cart at the Minot Menards seven years ago and cracked seven of her teeth.

At trial, the jury in Minot found that Menards must pay Darlene Jean Johnson $13,196 in past economic damages, $13,196 in future economic damages, and $10,000 in past non-economic damages, plus 3 percent a year in interest for each year since the accident. Her attorney’s fees were tacked on to the final tally months later.

According to the complaint in the case, Johnson went to the Menards in Minot on May 6, 2013 to exchange a floor vent. She stopped at the customer service desk to ask about exchanging an item she had purchased. Store employees told Johnson to look through the store and find an item with which to complete the exchange. As Johnson turned to leave the temporary customer service station that had been set up to accommodate customers, she was stopped by a flatbed cart that had been left in the walking area beside the station. Johnson’s shin hit the edge of the cart and she fell face forward onto the cart, damaging seven of her teeth. She needed dental work such as root canals, bridges, posts, and crowns on the damaged teeth.

Johnson’s attorneys have argued that Menards was at fault for not keeping the walking area free of an obstruction. Attorneys for the store had argued that Johnson should have been paying closer attention to her surroundings and that the flatbed cart had been avoided by other customers, did not pose an obvious hazard and Menards should not have been held liable.

In the appeal, attorneys for Menards also argue that the award of lawyer’s fees is excessive. The civil jury found that Menards was completely at fault and Johnson had no responsibility for the accident.

An oral argument in the case is scheduled for Oct. 7 before the supreme court in Bismarck.

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