Slip and fall trial against Georgia Carpet results in defense verdict

By Steve Gonzalez | May 24, 2007

After a brief two-day trial with roughly an hour of juror deliberations, an Edwardsville woman who alleged she sustained damages in excess of $75,000 when she tripped over a large saw lost her personal injury case in Madison County court on May 23.

Cherie Sedlacek claimed she was at Georgia Carpet in Edwardsville on June 23, 2001, looking at floor tile when she tripped over a large saw left on the floor of the showroom.

Sedlacek, represented by Joseph Brown of Edwardsville, claims the carpet store created or maintained a dangerous and hazardous condition on the showroom floor by leaving the saw in the display area. She claimed she did not see the saw because she was distracted by viewing the store displays.

She also claimed Georgia Carpet failed to have adequate personnel to keep the store reasonably safe, failed to have a reasonable and adequate customer safety policy, and failed to communicate any safety policies to employees.

During trial, Georgia Carpet's attorney Stephen Mudge told jurors that Sedlacek was the sole cause of any injuries she alleged and that her negligence was at least 50 percent.

Sedlacek claims she injured her hip which caused pain, suffering, disability, loss of a normal life and lost wages.

According to an Edwardsville Police report admitted into evidence, Sedlacek called the police to report the incident.

Officer Michael Woodridge wrote that Sedlacek declined to seek medical attention, but did state that he did see that she tore her shorts and had a bruise and a minor abrasion on her hip.

Sedlacek also claims the fall damaged her cellular phone.

Madison County Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder presided over the case.

Crowder granted seven motions in limine for Sedlacek.

Sedlacek asked Crowder to prohibit Mudge from mentioning any evidence or information about payment or reimbursement of her medical bills by insurance and also asked her to prohibit Mudge from mentioning her prior slip and falls where she injured other parts of her body.

In addition, Mudge was not allowed to mention Sedlacek is on Social Security Disability, that Georgia Carpet was not insured and would bear the burden of a money judgment, and that Georgia Carpet was "sorry" or otherwise sympathetic or remorseful for its actions.

Georgia Carpet filed 18 limine motions, Crowder allowed all but three.

The carpet store did not want the plaintiff's side to mention the amount of money they have spent defending the case and also did not want them to produce any information or documents in its file in front of the jury.

Crowder denied motions asking the plaintiff to refrain from making direct or indirect references to Sedlacek's financial condition and also asking Sedlacek from refraining from using hearsay statements.

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