Kasey Schefflin-Emrich Oct. 15, 2015, 11:55am


A married couple in Erie is suing a U.S. regional supermarket chain over alleged serious injuries sustained in an incident outside of one of its stores.

Frances A. Piazza and Pamela A. Wiley filed a lawsuit Aug. 25 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania against Wegmans Food Markets, citing negligence.

According to the complaint, the plaintiffs were customers at the defendant's retail grocery store at 6143 Peach St., Erie on Oct. 10, 2014. The suit states that after they finished shopping and paid for their items, they took advantage of the defendant's "helping hands" service in which Piazza drove to a designated area outside of the store and then a defendant employee loaded their purchased items into the vehicle. Wiley remained in the passenger seat, while Piazza was outside of the vehicle with the defendant employee.

According to the filing, the employee loaded the trunk of the vehicle in such a way that prevented the truck lid from closing. Piazza was knocked to the ground and become unconscious when the employee suddenly slammed the trunk down as she was pointing out the obstruction to the employee.

The defendant is faulted with failing to notice that Piazza's head was clearly in the area of the trunk before attempting to forcefully close the lid, not loading items into the vehicle to ensure the vehicle could be closed in a safe way, using excessive force to close the trunk despite knowing there was an obstruction, and failing to warn Piazza of its intent to force the trunk to close.

Additionally, the lawsuit says the defendant failed to respond in an appropriate manner following the incident as it didn't provide timely assistance and allowed other vehicles to continue to use the helping hands service despite the fact that Piazza was laying on the ground.

Among many things, Piazza claims she has and will continue to endure pain, memory loss, partial disability, depression, lost income and earning potential and medical expenses.

In the suit, Wiley alleges she has and will continue to suffer loss of companionship, care and support of Piazza. She has also experienced severe emotional distress due to being a witness of the immediate aftermath of the incident.

The plaintiffs seek damages, court costs and other relief deemed appropriate by the court. They are being represented by attorney Richard A. Lanzillo of Knox McLaughlin Gornall & Sennett, P.C. in Erie.

U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania case number 1:15-cv-00216.

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