Attorneys

State Supreme Courtroom upholds civil verdict in opposition to Menards, orders firm to pay plaintiff’s attorney charges in attraction case

The State Supreme Court has upheld a 2019 civil jury verdict and award of the plaintiff’s attorney fees against Menards in Minot, but directed the lower court to hold a hearing regarding payment of attorney fees for the appeal case.

A jury awarded Darlene Johnson of Underwood nearly $40,000 in damages at the 2019 civil trial in Minot and Menards was also ordered to pay $144,476.97 to Johnson for her attorney fees.

Johnson fell over a flatbed card at the Minot Menards Store on May 6, 2013, and cracked seven of her teeth. She had stopped at the customer service desk to ask about exchanging an item she had purchased. Store employees told Johnson to look through the store and find an item with which to complete the exchange. As Johnson turned to leave the temporary customer service station that had been set up to accommodate customers, she was stopped by a flatbedcart that had been left in the walking area by the station. Her shin hit the edge of the cart and she fell face forward, damaging her teeth. She needed extensive dental work to repair the damage, including root canals, bridges, posts, and crowns.

Johnson filed a civil suit and a jury found that Menards was completely at fault and Johnson had no responsibility for the accident. Menards then appealed the case to the Supreme Court and argued that Johnson should have been paying closer attention to her surroundings, that the flatbed cart had been avoided by other customers and did not pose an obvious hazard, and Menards shouldn’t have been held liable. Menards had also argued that the award of attorney’s fees in the case was excessive.

The Supreme Court found Menards’ arguments unpersuasive and upheld the verdict and the award of damages and attorney’s fees for Johnson. Johnson had also argued that Menards should also have to reimburse her for what it cost her to pay a lawyer for the Supreme Court appeal. The Supreme Court agreed with her and has ordered North Central District Court Judge Richard Hagar to hold a hearing to determine just how much Menards owes Johnson in attorney fees in the appeal case.

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