Widower faults Wal-Mart for fallen wife’s eventual death

By Carol Ostrow | Oct 21, 2015

A Lancaster County man is suing a large Arkansas-based retailer on charges of wrongful death, alleging premises negligence in a 2014 incident which he claims hastened his wife’s demise later that year.

George Janzen of Manheim sued Wal-Mart Stores East LP and Wal-Mart Stores Inc., of Bentonville, Ark. and doing business in Ephrata, Pa., individually and as representative of Evelyn Janzen’s estate in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on Sept. 30, claiming wrongful death in a February 2014 store mishap which he says caused his spouse’s health decline to advance dramatically, leading to her November 2014 death.

According to the suit, when the Janzens shopped in Walmart Store No. 2340’s grocery section Feb. 5, 2014, Evelyn slipped on standing water and fell onto the floor, breaking her left hip. Because she was a recent stroke victim, the shock and trauma of the accident confused her, the suit states.

The lawsuit states that the store was aware of water leakage from its roof that day, with numerous aisles closed off or equipped with buckets to catch the overflow of “water dripping from the ceiling.” The plaintiff asserts that his wife slipped on an unmarked puddle approximately 1.5 feet in diameter.

Transported to a hospital via ambulance, Evelyn Jantzen underwent surgery, remained hospitalized for six days, was transferred to an inpatient care facility for 22 days and then received in-home care until late April 2014, the suit states—after which she again fell and broke her right hip, underwent a second surgery and rehabilitation.

The complaint states that the initial fall in February “caused a sudden decline” in Evelyn’s health: “The fall shocked Mrs. Jazen's aging condition, dramatically worsened her dementia, caused pelvic trauma and pancreatitis, and directly resulted in her death on Nov. 11, 2014.”

The plaintiff charges Walmart with failure to properly inspect, maintain, repair and monitor its facilities, warn patrons of surface hazards with signage or barricades, allowing a dangerous condition to persist, and failing to protect customers’ safety.

Citing pecuniary damages and loss of companionship and invoking survival action, Janzen seeks monetary damages in excess of the minimum jurisdictional amount, interest, attorney’s fees, and court costs. He is represented by Emily Bell of Clymer Conrad in Lancaster.

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania 5:15-cv-05398-LS

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