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Thread: Car Damaged by Shopping Cart

  1. #1
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    Default Car Damaged by Shopping Cart

    I was recently at a shopping center for a lunch and upon returning to my vehicle noticed a significant dent in my luxury car as well as a store cart rested against my car. I was not a patron of the store that owned the shopping cart, but rather a restaurant nearby. Upon further investigation, I've found that the lot on which I was parked was owned by the cart store. I notified that store and went in to fill out an incident report within 24 hours of the incident (not immediately however as I had to return to work). I was hoping to ascertain more information regarding their legal responsibility and in what cases they may be held negligent. From my understanding of similar cases online, I believe that to recover damages from the aforementioned store, I will need to prove two things: 1) The damage to my cart was caused by the shopping cart and 2) The shopping cart struck my car due to gross negligence on behalf of the store. A few more facts that I believe support my case:

    1) Support that the damage was caused by the shopping cart:
    Facts: There is gray paint at the height consistent with where a cart would have struck my car. Likewise, the damages are consistent with where a cart would have struck my car.
    Unknown: There are cameras at the front of the store that are not available to my viewing until a discovery process -- as I was parked quite far away from this store, I am unsure whether the cameras will be able to prove a cart came my way.
    Questions:
    A) Should I acquire a scraping of the gray paint on my cart to ensure it is consistent with the gray paint used on the carts? Will this help my case?
    B) What other information should I know to reinforce that the damage was caused by the cart?

    2) Support that cart damage was a result of gross negligence:
    Facts: The parking lot where I was parked is owned and was built by the shopping cart store. It is at a significant grade, which no doubt affected the damage done to my cart. The municipality of the parking lot does not have any suggested requirements for the angle of building so it appears consistent with that. However, there were no noticeable signs where I was parked to suggest that there could be damage done to my car (it was located very far away - perhaps 250-350 feet from the store). Is this consistent with BRANKS v. KERN and something I can use to my advantage? Likewise, there are very few corrals in the parking lot relative to the traffic at the time. Kroger Co. vs. Elwood suggests that "there is evidence that grocery carts had rolled into vehicles due to the parking lot's slope and may have posed a foreseeable risk of damage to customers' vehicles" (I do not know the slope of the lot in the mentioned case). Lastly, when speaking to the security guard, he mentioned that these types of incidences occur "all the time".
    Unknowns: I am unaware of how many customers (vehicles) usually visit the store at that time of day/week. Also, I do not know how frequently employees from the store in question retrieve the carts or if the corrals were full at the time of the incident.
    Questions:
    A) Would any of the problems mentioned able contribute to gross negligence on behalf of the store?

    3) Other information:
    Facts: I was told that wind is often used as an "Act of God" defense. I have analyzed nearby wind patterns for the past 5 years and have found the average wind temperature to be within a normal reading on that day.

    Please feel free to contact me with any questions. I greatly appreciate your help with this matter and am interested (aside from the financial aspect of it) to better understand the laws regarding the subject. I have not contacted my insurer yet, ascertained estimated quotes for repairs, and am currently performing research while I wait a letter in the mail from the store in question.

    Humbly,
    Your Newbiew85346

  2. #2
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    No, you do not have a case of gross negligence on the part of the store. If you get yourself a lawyer and you're willing to throw a WHOLE lot of money at this, you might possible eke out a case of simple negligence. But gross negligence, not gonna happen.
    The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by cbg View Post
    No, you do not have a case of gross negligence on the part of the store. If you get yourself a lawyer and you're willing to throw a WHOLE lot of money at this, you might possible eke out a case of simple negligence. But gross negligence, not gonna happen.

    Thank you for your timely reply. I believe I now understand the varying degrees of negligence. Could you speak a bit further about how this distinction could affect the outcome? Would it refer to them still being culpable but responsible for X% less in damages?

    I am hoping to resolve the issue in arbitration, presenting a strong front to change their cost benefit calculus. I also have experience in PR I am hoping to leverage at a local level. Would it not be possible to fight in a small claims court without an attorney?

  4. #4
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    You noted: "I greatly appreciate your help with this matter and am interested (aside from the financial aspect of it) to better understand the laws regarding the subject."

    In that case, it might be best if you contacted/talked to a lawyer.

    Re your last post, you can sue in small claims court without a lawyer up to the amount your state allows.
    Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

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  5. #5
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    Here are some of the difficulties you're going to face in attempting to prove any kind of negligence -

    If the grade is that steep, then anyone who's ever taken geometry or understands the basic laws of physics should be able to figure out for themselves that there could be a danger of carts following those same physical laws.

    You admit you don't know how many customers frequent the store at any given time, who might have left the cart there; or how long it had been there. Can you show, CONCLUSIVELY, that the cart had been left there long enough for the store to have been aware of it?

    The average wind temperature means diddly squat. A single gust of wind would be enough to send the cart moving if the grade is steep enough; doesn't matter what the average was.
    The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

  6. #6
    Raster
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    So you readily admit to not being a business invitee of that store/lot owner . Were there signs posted as for shoppers

  7. #7
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    Was there a posting anywhere in the parking lot saying "Park at your own risk?"
    I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.
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  8. #8
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    It isn't clear what you even want here. You don't even have an estimate for the cost of the repair, if one is even necessary. That it is a "luxury" vehicle, that you were at a restaurant, and most of the other details you share are totally irrelevant. Get a estimate and if it fits within the limits for small claims court, that is your best option. Do not expect that the store will welcome the chance to mediate this or expend a lot of legal costs over a dent from a cart in the parking lot. You are really barking up the wrong tree for gross negligence. You have no idea what even caused the incident, no pictures of the scene, no idea how many patrons were using the store, how full the cart returns were, etc. You have a 50/50 shot at best in small claims. To do anything more would cost more than you could ever hope to recover.
    I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.

  9. #9
    Raster
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    Personally my guess is lot owner will throw a lot of legal,resources into equation so as to not lose a case on parking lot issues .

    Nothing you posted so far suggests lot owner is into any form of gross negligence or there is any hidden problem

    I think your odds are well below 50/50 And it would seem you are a mere licensee not an invitee IF that matters under local law ....in short the super market owner operator does NOT owe customers of the restaurant next door any special duty of care while you parked there to go to restaurant!

    At best if you can sweet talk the supermarket to review the tapes IF there are any of the parking lot, and IF they show somebody pushing a cart in direction of your car..you " might" have a viable claim against the pusher if he or she can be identified.

  10. #10
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    A few point of clarifications:

    @Betty3: My state allows for up to 10k in small claims court. I don't believe my damages will be out of this range. I concede it probably would be prudent to receive 3 quotes on the damage to figure out the cost-benefit of pursuing damages vs. employing my insurance.

    @cbg: Thank you again for your response. The grade is perhaps at 3-5 degrees, so not considerably steep. I believe that while regular customers are aware of the potential dangers, I have never been to this shopping facility before, was unaware of what stores located there, or if these stores even employed shopping carts. I was parked so far away that I didn't even know the store in question was uphill as there were no signs near the street or at the entrance to their parking lot (which is actually closer to the restaurant where I parked). My study of the wind was meant to show that as it was an average day for my geographic area, this was not an unforeseeable event.

    @Raster/Morgana: I do not know how not being a business invitee might affect the case. As mentioned to cbg, I had no idea the lot where I was parked belonged to this store. As it is located at a shopping center, it's pavement is connect to the pavement of the shopping center lot (aka they were built together and at the same time) if that makes sense. I did not see any signs to indicate that myself or my vehicle was at any risk or danger of being struck by carts.

    @ElleMD: You raise a couple of good points, thanks. I am hoping to seek monetary restitution for the damages done to my vehicle (both the cost of repair and the % decrease that a damaged car usually sells for vs. an undamaged one. I can perform a statistical analyses on the latter, but I generally believe they sell for less). The mention of it being a luxury vehicle was meant to frame why I was concerned. Can you explain why many of the details are irrelevant? Or which ones? As cbg pointed out, gross negligence is definitely out of the question -- initially hoping to seek that was because my own naivety regarding the law.

    With regards to the unknowns, I do know that the Google Maps image of the parking lot shows the lot to be considerably more full than the number of corrals they offer. I can assume the time of day is consistent with when damages were done to my car based on the length of the shadows of lighting poles. However, would these unknowns not be resolved during a discovery process before small claims court? Wouldn't I be permitted to view their video tapes (both to confirm damage to my car,check the frequency of cart retrieval, the fullness of corrals, and # of vehicles in lot), receive particular metadata regarding the count of customer checkouts, and find out what logs say how frequently individuals check for carts?

    Again, thank you again for all of your legal input.


    Warm Regards,
    Newbie
    Last edited by newbie85346; 07-17-2014 at 08:34 AM.

  11. #11
    Raster
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    it's not necessarily my duty to tell you where my property lines run ...and as posted you were not there to,do business with me..so it's a bit of a stretch as to,why I owe you any special duties of care. The duty of care I owe to some random guest on my lands is probably in your state law or case law

    a bunch of shopping carts is a pretty visible and common issue in a shopping center ...and
    LAnd with a grade is apparent as you stand there .

    I follow all your engineering points and possible satellite picture points....but absent a legal link as to negligence by store/lot owner I think you are spinning your wheels.

    IF there had been prior history,of carts and damage in that specific area due to grade or something ..and owner took no steps to,abate the damage risks you " might " have a point on such a road if you were to uncover said road.

  12. #12
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    I think your best bet & what would make you feel better would be to run this by a lawyer for his/her opinion. You might even get an initial consultation for free. If you still believe you have a case, you can file in small claims court without a lawyer.
    Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

    Live in peace with animals. Animals bring love to our hearts and warmth to our souls.

  13. #13
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    You aren't going to be able to recover based on what might affect the future sale or trade value of your car. A shopping cart could mot possibly do enough damage to affect future value. How full the shopping center is on a different day is going to be totally irrelevant. What matters is what the conditions were on the day the incident occurred.

    Details which aren't relevant:

    luxury car (whether it was a Rolls Royce or a Toyota changes nothing)

    average wind speeds

    the fact you had never been to that shopping center before and didn't bother to look at what other stores were around (that is all on you and not the parking lot owner's problem)

    what the security guard told you about other incidents

    the length of shadows in a google map image on some unknown date.
    I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.

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