Ontario woman sues Walmart for shopping cart injury

Cartini went on to sue the mall, property management and Walmart.
Cartini went on to sue the mall, property management and Walmart. (Photo: REUTERS/Kamil Krzaczynski)

Many shoppers have experienced the phenomenon of a shopping cart rolling away from them while they’re loading their car. One case is seeking to put a stop to it.

Ontario resident Sandra Cartini was at Square One Shopping Centre in Mississauga in 2013 when she fell in the parking garage. The shopping cart her son had been holding on to had rolled away and down a sloped ramp. After chasing the cart, she tripped on “uneven pavement” and hit her head.

She went on to sue the mall, property management and Walmart, which owned the cart in question.

Cartini’s first lawyer argued that the parking lot was unsafe but after expert testimony was presented that showed the parking garage complied with industry standards, the judge dismissed that argument in December 2016.

However, her new lawyer decided put forward another argument, using an “unsafe shopping cart theory,” by blaming Cartini’s injury on the moving cart that had no brakes.

She argued that because the parking garage was sloped, it’s common sense that a “wheeled shopping cart is a hazard anywhere it’s sloped.” It was further claimed that Cartini wouldn’t have fallen and gotten injured if the shopping cart had stayed put.

The theory seems to be a somewhat novel argument when it comes to personal injury lawsuits but it’s the one that the judge actually accepted. However, the judge also said that the argument didn’t go far enough and the lawyer would have explain it in more detail at a later date.

If the woman and her lawyer win the case based on this argument, it could change the way personal injury cases involving shopping carts are handled. Although some shopping carts have brakes, a win for Cartini may force retailers to put brakes on most shopping carts in Ontario.

Especially as the judge agreed about the hazard risk, saying “Laden shopping carts rolling down paved inclines are an obvious hazard.  Shopping carts without brakes are an obvious hazard to 'get loose.'”

The judge gave the lawyer until the end of January to submit more arguments supporting the theory.

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