Wal-Mart, Sam's Club seek dismissal in personal injury case

Steve Gonzalez and Ann Knef Oct. 16, 2008, 3:30am

Wal-Mart and Sam's Club has removed a St. Clair County personal injury suit to federal court in East St. Louis arguing complete diversity of citizenship exits.

In addition, Wal-Mart and Sam's alleges the amount in controversy is likely over $75,000, making removal of the case proper.

Deborah LoDuca is suing Wal-Mart and Sam's Club for injuries she allegedly sustained while attempting to sit on an office chair that had been displayed at an O'Fallon store.

According to a complaint filed Aug. 29 in St. Clair County Circuit Court, the office chair malfunctioned while LoDuca was lowering herself onto it at Sam's Club on Aug. 1, 2007.

The suit claims the defendants failed to remedy the dangerous condition of the chair when they knew or should have known of the condition and the unreasonable risk of harm it created.

LoDuca also claims the chair was not properly assembled, and the defendants failed to warn her of the chair's dangerous condition.

She claims low back injuries, bodily pain and anguish, loss of a normal life and medical expenses.

Represented by James DeFranco of Swansea, Wal-Mart and Sam's argues that venue lies in federal court rather than state court because of the diversity and amount sought.

In addition, they argue that LoDuca claimed her injuries were the result of her failure to sit on the chair in an appropriate, stable place.

Wal-Mart and Sam's also claim LoDuca failed to use her arms to hold the arms of the chair when she was sitting in it and failed to lower herself at an appropriate speed and angle.

They are asking U.S. District Judge J. Phil Gilbert to dismiss the case and award them costs.

No hearings have yet to be scheduled.

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