Hot Docs: Woman sues Wal-Mart over electric shock from shopping cart

September 8, 2011

walmart cartSome people complain about the static shock they sometimes get from certain shopping carts.

This lawsuit is about something a bit more serious.

April Lysyj, an Ohio woman, is suing Wal-Mart because she “received an electrical shock through her shopping cart while pushing it through the store.”

Lysyj received the shock because of the negligence of one or more contractors that were working on construction or remodeling of the store at the time, according to the complaint.

Negligent how?

The one-page long complaint is a bit short on the facts, actually, so there isn’t any information about how negligent Wal-Mart and the contractors were, or if they were even negligent at all.

Hot Doc: Lysyj v. Wal-Mart Business Real Estate Trust

Source: Thomson Reuters News & Insight – National Litigation

For all we know, a live wire could have been left hanging from the ceiling and come into contact with Lysyj’s shopping cart, or if the cart could have been run into an otherwise well-maintained cable.

The complaint only asserts, albeit repeatedly, that the defendants were negligent.

Unfortunately for Lysyj, that isn’t the only defect from which the complaint suffers.

Specifically, it is exceptionally lacking in detail about the injuries inflicted upon Lysyj because of the electric shock.

From what I could gather, this is the most detailed account of her injuries in the complaint:

She was caused to suffer injuries, including but not limited to, neurological complications to her extremities resulting from her electrocution injury, as well as injury to her related anatomical structures, together with emotional distress.”

Obviously, that doesn’t tell us much about the extent of her injuries (could you get any vaguer than “related anatomical structures”?), but it certainly asserts that Lysyj has suffered injury because of the “defendants’ negligence.”

Actually, the complaint is very clear that all four elements of negligence are met, and it uses language in such an overtly legal manner that I wouldn’t be surprised if some of it were lifted straight out of the Third Restatement of Torts.

This all may leave you wondering why the complaint was filed when it was so incomplete.

It may have something to do with the accident’s occurring 1 year and 363 days prior to the complaint’s filing, and with Ohio having a two-year statute of limitations on personal injury claims.

Obviously, Lysyj needed to get this filed before the statute of limitations ran, and her attorney was careful enough to get just enough in the complaint for it to be able to survive summary judgment (I’m not saying that it definitely would, but it could be much worse).

I would guess that Lysyj and her attorney wouldn’t want to risk a summary judgment motion with the complaint in its current form, so an amended complaint – laden with facts helpful to her case – shouldn’t be far behind.

Despite the complaint’s faults, Lysyj’s case still seems fairly strong (with the right corroborating facts), and I wouldn’t be shocked to learn of Wal-Mart wanting to settle the case quickly.