Terry Evans and Lori Battern represented defendant Hy-Vee, Inc. in the case of Ronald Parrish v. Hy-Vee, Inc. before a Buchanan County, Missouri jury in October of 2015. The case arose out of an alleged fall which occurred in December of 2012, in which Plaintiff Ronald Parrish alleged he fell after stepping on a thin layer of black ice that had not been treated in the driveway of the parking lot resulting in a bimalleolar-equivalent fracture to Plaintiff’s left ankle.
A Buchanan County jury returned a unanimous verdict in favor of Hy-Vee, Inc. in a trip and fall suit after determining that Hy-Vee, Inc. was not at fault for Plaintiff’s fall.
According to Plaintiff, he was walking around the front of his semi-tractor when he slipped and fell on ice he did not see on the Hy-Vee Food Store parking lot on December 27, 2012 at approximately 11:48 am. Mr. Parrish testified that he saw white ice that looked like it had been treated. As he walked around his truck into the driving lane of the parking lot, his left foot slipped forward on what he testified must have been a thin sheet of black ice that was not treated. Plaintiff did not initially report his fall to Hy-Vee employees. As a result of the fall, Plaintiff fractured his left ankle requiring an initial surgery, as well as a second surgery to remove the hardware.
Plaintiff testified that although he saw the white ice and it appeared to be treated, he fell on a thin sheet of black ice that was not treated. He also testified that he was not looking at the ground as he walked but that there was nothing blocking his vision.
A witness to the occurrence testified that Plaintiff fell on white ice that was clearly visible.
Both Plaintiff and the witness testified that the driveways in Hy-Vee’s parking lot were clear.
Employees of Hy-Vee testified that, although they do not recall exactly what they did on the date of the occurrence, it is the practice and culture of the store to inspect their parking at 7:00 a.m. every day and apply salt to any icy areas as needed. As a result of their practices, Hy-Vee employees knew they would have inspected the parking lot on the date of the occurrence and would have applied salt to the area where Plaintiff fell. Further, evidence was presented that Hy-Vee had their parking lot professionally cleared and salted after snow storms, including the snow storm which occurred one week prior to the incident.
After the closing of the evidence, the jury agreed with Hy-Vee, Inc. and returned a unanimous verdict assessing no fault to Defendant.
Damages claimed by Plaintiff for past medical expenses and lost wages were approximately $54,000. Plaintiff’s treating orthopedic surgeon testified that Plaintiff sustained a permanent injury to his left ankle and would, in the future, require bracing, fusion, or ankle replacement. No offer was made by Defendant. During closing arguments, Plaintiff argued to the jury for damages in excess of $300,000.