On June 11, a St. Louis man filed a lawsuit against Home Depot alleging that it had negligently failed to monitor the condition of the toilet seats in its customer restrooms, and had negligently failed to warn of a serious problem therewith. To wit:
3. At all times herein mentioned, an adhesive had been applied to the toilet seat in one of the bathroom stalls . . . which rendered the toilet dangerous and unreasonably safe [sic], in that persons sitting on the toilet seat were likely to come in contact with adhesive and be caused to adhere to it.
4. On or about August 13, 2007, Plaintiff was a business invitee lawfully in and upon the store of Defendant when he came into contact with the aforesaid adhesive, and, by reason thereof, he was directly caused to sustain injuries after standing up . . . .
The plaintiff, Haywood Rosales, claims that Home Depot was negligent because, had it exercised ordinary care with regard to the seat, it would have discovered the dangerous condition "in time to have remedied the condition and thus . . . avoided injury to Plaintiff."
So far, so good. A fairly simple negligence case, complicated only by the existence of the unknown third-party toilet saboteur. But, in a stroke of true genius, Rosales also alleges that Home Depot had special reason to be on the lookout, because of a previous seat-gluing incident at a Home Depot in Boulder, Colorado, in 2003. "News of this incident," the complaint says, "was broadcast via national television, radio and print media[, and even appeared on some joker’s "legal humor" website] in November of 2005, after a lawsuit was filed." Accordingly,
9. The Home Depot knew or should have known, after the incident in Boulder, Colorado, that there would be a strong possibility that instances of copycat behavior would occur, especially since the Home Depot sells a wide variety of adhesive products, and that same could be used in a similar manner to recreate ["re-create," I assume] or to cause a similar situation.
As a result of Home Depot’s negligence, Rosales says, he received injuries to his underparts, and has endured the embarrassment, pain and suffering of the initial injury and its concomitant treatment." Said embarrassment was almost certainly not equal to that suffered by the Colorado man, Bob Dougherty, who had to be carried from the store, seat and all, so the removal could be carried out at a hospital. But said embarrassment would not have been subsequently reduced by the filing of a complaint that, as Rosales knew or should have known due in part to the prior incident, would very quickly be made widely available to the public. (One later report claimed that local residents had given Dougherty the nickname "Sticky Bob.")
Rosales is seeking damages in excess of $25,000. Precedent is not on his side, since The Smoking Gun also reports that the Colorado case was finally dismissed last year, after a judge ruled that Home Depot did not know about the dangerous condition and that it was not foreseeable. Rosales, clearly, is taking another run at the foreseeability element.
Link: The Smoking Gun