Customer's trip, fall suit against McDonald's settles

By Heather Isringhausen Gvillo | May 6, 2019

A woman’s trip and fall lawsuit against McDonalds settled just before the trial was set to begin in St. Clair County Circuit Judge Heinz Rudolf’s courtroom.

The St. Clair County Circuit Clerk's office previously said the case was advancing to trial before the settlement order was entered on the docket. 

Rudolf entered an order April 16, announcing the parties reached a settlement. He set a case conference for May 13 at 9 a.m. for presentation of stipulation.

Plaintiffs Shanai McLorn and Darryl Garner had previously been represented by Ellen Burford of Burford Law Office in Granite City. Burford filed a motion to withdraw on March 4 , stating that “there has been a breakdown in the relationship” between the plaintiffs and Burford.

McLorn filed a statement Feb. 28 stating that she was concerned that Burford was not properly representing her in the case.

“I Shanai A. McLorn is concern about my case believe my attorney Ellen Burford is not represent me she not concerned about my well-being, she also have selective hearing partially supportive not fulfilling my legal service (sic),” McLorn wrote.

McLorn filed her original complaint against McDonald’s on July 16, 2015, against McDonald’s Corporation and McDonald’s of Metro St. Louis.

McLorn and Garner filed an amended complaint Feb. 28 against defendant TDS Services Inc., which owns eight McDonalds restaurants including the one in Nashville, Ill.

She alleges she was at the defendant’s franchise in Nashville, Ill. on Feb. 22, 2014, when she allegedly lost her balance while walking on the tile floor and fell. She claims the tile “had been loose for a considerable period of time.”

The plaintiffs claimed the defendant did not allow them to complete an incident report following McLorn’s fall.

The plaintiffs alleged the restaurant failed to maintain the floor in a safe condition, place a sign or other warning in the area to alert patrons and failed to barricade the dangerous zone. They also alleged the defendant failed to prevent customers from walking across the damaged floor when it knew of the hazards it posed, failed to properly report the incident when the plaintiffs reported the fall, and failed to provide proper aid to McLorn following the incident.

TDS Services answered the complaint on March 29 through attorney Erin Phillips of Unsell, Schattnik & Phillips PC in Wood River.

The defendant denied liability and argued that the plaintiffs failed to mitigate damages.

McDonald’s Corporation previously sought to transfer the case to Washington County.

The defendant agreed that vanue was “theoretically proper” in St. Clair County, but argued that Washington County would better serve the parties’ convenience.

“Although deference to the plaintiff’s choice of forum is substantial, it is not dispositive. St. Clair County is plaintiff’s home forum and therefore presumed to be convenient to plaintiff, but this factor is not determinative given that the situs of the occurrence is in a neighboring county and that plaintiffs’ residence does not bear a substantial relation to the litigation,” the motion stated.

The defendant also argued that “the interest in deciding localized controversies locally as a factor overwhelmingly favors transfer of this cause to Washington County.”

“Obviously Washington County would have a greater interest in ensuring the safety of patrons who claim to have been injured at a business located within the county than would St. Clair County for a business not within its borders,” the motion stated.

Both McDonald’s Corporation and McDonald’s of Metro St. Louis denied liability in the lawsuit and sought to dismiss the case.

McDonald’s Corporation argued that McLorn failed to sufficiently assert the existence of a legal duty.

McDonald’s of Metro St. Louis argued that it is not a proper party in the suit, claiming it is a co-op of McDonald’s and has “no role or control in the day to day operation of any McDonald’s franchise.”

McDonald’s Corporation had been represented by Unsell, Schattnik & Phillips PC.

McDonald’s of Metro St. Louis had been represented by Amy Simkins of St. Louis.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number 15-L-400

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