A jury has ordered Ikea to pay $3.2 million in damages to a Virginia woman who was injured when a stack of countertops fell on her at the furniture giant's Potomac Mills store, the Washington Post is reporting.
Xiaolei Zeng, a 36-year-old woman from Arlington, VA suffered a crushed pelvis when an eight-foot-high stack of countertops fell on top of her in an "As Is" section of the store. According to the Post, before her injuries Zeng was an avid international traveller, hiker, and bicyclist, but "now can walk only about three blocks before the pain becomes too much."
After hearing three days of testimony, including the opinion of doctors who said that Zeng's pain is likely to be life-long, the Fairfax County jury (five women and two men) took only three hours to rule for Zeng last Thursday, awarding more than $3 million for past and future pain and suffering, the Post reports.
Stores like Ikea can be liable for injuries to customers under a legal theory known as "premises liability." Depending on the circumstances surrounding the injury -- and the law of the state where an injury lawsuit is filed -- courts and juries may classify a person injured on someone else's property as an "invitee," "licensee", or "trespasser". In most states who follow this classification system, a customer in a store is considered an invitee, and is provided the highest level of legal protection for any accidental injury that occurs on the store's property (Learn more about Premises Liability).