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Kmart Customer Gets $600,000 Payout After Getting Hit by Mountain Bike; Here's how it Happened

The incident, captured by CCTV, occurred when a woman was struck by a boxed mountain bike in the self-checkout section of the store.
Cover Image Source: Kmart | Getty Images | Photo by Michael Bradley
Cover Image Source: Kmart | Getty Images | Photo by Michael Bradley

Retail chains are already struggling to retain customers as more people are preferring the convenience of ordering products from e-commerce sites. This is why any incident that suggests people aren't safe at stores can cause significant damage to such retail brands. In a recent legal battle against retail giant Kmart, Rita Marmara, a 64-year-old woman, secured a substantial settlement of over $600,000 after suffering a life-altering injury in one of the chain's stores located in Woy Woy, on the Central Coast of New South Wales.

Captured by CCTV, the incident occurred when the woman was struck by a boxed mountain bike in the self-checkout section of the store, leading to severe neck and shoulder injuries that required multiple surgeries and rendered her unable to continue her physically demanding job at a retirement home.

Image Source: GettyImages | Photo by Michael Bradley
Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by Michael Bradley

Marmara's ordeal began as she navigated the aisles of the Kmart store. However, a mundane shopping trip turned into a nightmare when another customer's trolley, laden with boxed mountain bikes, toppled over, causing one of the boxes to collide with Marmara's back. The impact of the blow was substantial, leading to immediate pain and subsequent medical complications that necessitated surgical intervention.

The court proceedings shed light on the significant ramifications of the accident on the 64-year-old's life. District Court Judge Judith Gibson emphasized the profound impact of the injury, stating, "She was a fit and healthy person who walked to work full-time and performed a job which had a significant physical activity component."

"That physical work included dragging trolleys, cleaning pots, and assisting in the care of residents whose physical health was fragile in circumstances where they would have been dependent upon her strength if called upon."

Image Source: Photo by EKATERINA  BOLOVTSOVA | Pexels
Image Source: Photo by EKATERINA BOLOVTSOVA | Pexels

The court recognized the severity of the woman's suffering and acknowledged the substantial medical expenses and lost income she incurred as a result.

"Although the plaintiff was struck only by the larger box, the impact of the blow was considerable, The plaintiff was holding the hand of a small child at the time. That child could have been struck by one or both boxes falling out," the judge said.

The disparity between the woman's claim of nearly $750,000 and Kmart's estimate of damages at just $5,000 drew criticism from Judge Gibson. "The schedules of damages could not be further apart. Estimates of this extreme nature are of no assistance to the court," she said.

The court also scrutinized Kmart's safety protocols, highlighting lapses in communication regarding available services for handling bulky items such as mountain bikes.

A Nurse in the accident and emergency dept of Selly Oak Hospital | Getty Images | Photo by Christopher Furlong
Image Source: A nurse in the accident and emergency dept of a hospital | Getty Images | Photo by Christopher Furlong

Despite the presence of a loading dock section where customers could pay for assistance with heavy items, the absence of clear signage or communication regarding this service contributed to the hazardous conditions that led to Marmara's injury.

The court dismissed Kmart's attempts to discredit the woman's testimony by alleging fabrication of symptoms, affirming her credibility and the legitimacy of her claims. Ultimately, the court ruled in favor of the woman, awarding her a minimum settlement of $613,461.55.

However, the final settlement amount could go up depending on further negotiations between Marmara and Kmart to account for additional expenses incurred, including out-of-pocket costs.