Dollar Store personal injury lawsuit moved to federal court

By Jon Campisi | Aug 15, 2011

A man who claims he sustained a hip fracture and other serious bodily injuries after falling at a city Dollar Store has had his lawsuit, originally filed in mid July at Philadelphia’s Common Pleas Court, moved to federal court.

The case was officially transferred Aug. 11 to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, according to documents found on the federal court’s website.

The case pits Trenton, N.J. residents Riley and Sylvia Tarver, who are husband and wife, against Dollar Tree Stores, Inc.

According to the original complaint, which was attached to the notice of removal, Riley Tarver was shopping at the Dollar Store at 1635 Market St. in Center City, Philadelphia on Nov. 8, 2010, when, while pushing along a shopping cart, he was caused to “slip, trip, stumble and fall by reason of a defect in the cart, causing the wheels of the cart to become stuck, thereby creating a dangerous, defective and hazardous condition,” leading to a slew of physical injuries.

The lawsuit claims that the shopping cart was equipped with a device designed to cause the wheels to lock up when it crosses over an electronic perimeter located outside of the store.

Other retail stores in Philadelphia have similar devices, which are designed to discourage the stealing of carts.

The complaint alleges that the locking of the cart’s wheels caused Tarver to tumble to the ground.

The lawsuit accuses the defendant of negligence for allowing a dangerous and defective condition to exist on its property. The suit does not seem to specify whether or not the plaintiff had crossed the electronic perimeter at the time the wheels locked, or if they locked inadvertently while still on company property.

As a result of his fall, the lawsuit claims, Tarver sustained multiple fractures to his left hip, which required surgical intervention; fractures of the left femoral neck; lower back injuries and other physical problems.

The lawsuit claims that Tarver has also suffered mental anguish, financial hardship, since he has had to expend money on medical treatment, and has been unable to perform his regular duties and activities because of his injuries.

The original complaint states that Tarver sought damages against the defendant in an amount in excess of $50,000. His wife, Sylvia Tarver, had a loss of consortium count in the suit in which she, too, sought a judgment in excess of $50,000, claiming her husband’s injuries deprived her of his services.

The original complaint was filed by Newtown, Pa. attorney Ian S. Abovitz, of the firm Stark & Stark, P.C.

The motion to remove the case from Common Pleas Court to federal court was filed by Philadelphia lawyer Michael F. Metzger, of the law firm Clinton & Clinton who represents Dollar Tree Stores, Inc.

The paperwork says the case was transferred to federal court because the amount sought exceeds $75,000, and because the defendant is headquartered out-of-state.

The federal case number is 2:11-cv-05128-PBT.

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