Sized-challenged shopper suit is a stretch

The Madison County Record Aug. 22, 2010, 11:37am

If you eschew a step stool or assistance and try to reach a heavy object on a high pantry shelf or cupboard, you run the risk of bringing it down on yourself, in which case you have no one to blame but yourself and a headache to prove your foolishness.

If you make the same mistake in a supermarket or department store, with the right lawyer, you might start thinking that bump on the noggin is a moneymaker.

Many's the time Fibber McGee from the Golden Age of Radio brought down an avalanche of miscellaneous objects upon his head when he opened his overstuffed hall closet, but not once did he think of suing the contractor who'd built his house. Instead, he would remind himself: "I gotta get that closet cleaned out one of these days."

Christy McCabe of Madison County recently was out and about, when she brought a five-pound container of lemonade down upon her own head at the Collinsville Wal-Mart. She's now suing the store and its manager for more than $50,000 for the spinal injuries she claims to have suffered in the mishap.

Christy contends that Wal-Mart is to blame for her injury because store employees had double-stacked the five-pound containers on a top shelf, out of easy reach for a not-tall woman (Christy is 5'3"). The containers were stacked too high and when she stretched for one, it slipped from her fingers and fell on her head, she alleges.

There are, undoubtedly, certain disadvantages to being shorter than most folks, and one could argue that retailers should take that into consideration when arranging merchandise. Of course, in our litigious times, any solicitude for short shoppers might only invite complaints from taller ones putting their backs out bending over to reach low items. It's a dilemma for Wal-Mart and other no-frills, big-box stores.

But, surely, it's not unreasonable to expect customers to ask for help when they need it and to refrain from actions likely to result in injury.

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