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Case Results

$3.2M verdict in Fairfax County - merchandise fell on woman at IKEA

Ms. W, a 33-year-old woman, went to IKEA on her day off from work, looking for a table top she could use as a writing desk. She didn't find anything in the main part of the store, so she went to the 'As-Is' section, where IKEA displays its returned and damaged goods of all kinds for sale. There is a no-return policy for items purchased in the 'As-Is' section, so customers must examine the merchandise before purchase.

Ms. W walked over to a large open cabinet where some table and counter tops were stored on their ends. There was nothing there that she wanted, so she turned to look for the way out of the section. She had not touched anything. Suddenly, several large countertops that had been leaning against the outside of the cabinet, and that weighed in excess of 350 pounds, fell on Ms. W, crushing her pelvis.

IKEA's method of displaying countertops that were too large for the cabinet was to lean them against the outside of the cabinet. IKEA claimed this system was safe because there were bungee cords holding the countertops in place. However, no one actually saw the bungee cords after the incident, and one IKEA employee testified at trial that they did not know how strong the cords were and doubted whether they would have kept the large objects from falling.

Ms. W suffered fractures of her pelvis in two places and a fracture of the right side of her sacrum. The first surgery she had was to insert a metal stabilizer so her pelvis would grow back together, and the second was to remove the metal hardware and screws. There are two large, prominent scars on her lower back. Three years after her injury, she was still left with pain every day. This once active, joyful woman now moves slowly. She doesn't go hiking or climbing or bicycling or kayaking anymore.

She had a very good friend on the day she was injured, and they had planned to go hiking the next day, at which time they would have expressed their affection for each other. That conversation didn't happen for almost one year while Ms. W recuperated from her injury. They got married in August 2008. In addition to the pain Ms. W has every day, she is concerned about getting pregnant and the strain the pregnancy will put on her body, plus how she will be able to care for a baby after it is born.

After three days of testimony, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Ms. W in the amount of $3,200,000 after two hours of deliberation.

Awarded: Verdict $3,200,000


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