SAKG Secures Defense Verdict in Premises Liability Case

On May 19, 2022, the SAKG team of Jeff Kennard, Alex McKenna, and Becca Preisendorf secured a defense verdict for our client, Hy-Vee, Inc. (“Hy-Vee”), in the Circuit Court of Clay County, Missouri.  The caption of the case is Jeff Magill, et al. v. Hy-Vee, Inc., et al., Case No. 19CY-CV09034.

In March 2018, Magill tripped and fell while existing the Wine & Spirits Department at the Hy-Vee store in Liberty, Missouri.  Magill claimed (and Hy-Vee did not dispute) that one section of the sidewalk near the exit had heaved slightly and the edge of that section was roughly 1/2 inch higher than the adjacent section.  Magill claimed the struck the “raised edge” of the sidewalk with such force that he broke his right foot.  He then allegedly lost this balance, stumbled appropriately 7-8 feet, and drove his left shoulder into his vehicle, which was parked next to the end of the sidewalk.  Magill suffered a closed right tibial plateau fracture requiring surgery, a closed left humeral fracture requiring surgery, a closed right first metatarsal fracture, a left third finger avulsion fracture, and  broken right foot as a result of the incident.  Hy-Vee did not dispute the cause or extent of Magill’s injuries.

Magill sought to recover his paid medical expenses (which totaled roughly $46,000), lost wages (which totaled roughly $60,000), and non-economic damages for pain and suffering.  Magill’s wife, who was also a named plaintiff, sought to recover damages for loss of consortium.

The primary issue in the case was whether the sidewalk was reasonably safe.  To prove the sidewalk was indeed reasonably safe, SAKG presented evidence that millions of customers had walked over the “raised edge” of the sidewalk without incident and Magill is the only person who claims to have stumbled or tripped over the “raised edge.”  SAKG also presented evidence, through Magill’s cross-examination,  that he was not looking down at the sidewalk or paying attention to where he walking before he tripped and fell.

After a three-day trial, the jury determined that neither party was at fault and returned a verdict in Hy-Vee’s favor.  The verdict form can be viewed by clicking here.