Dillard’s pays $15M to settle escalator suit

Dillard’s has agreed to pay $15 million to the family of a young girl who lost three fingers when they became trapped in an escalator in one of its Florida stores. At the time of the settlement, the jury had already awarded the family $9.4 million in compensatory damages and was about to hear evidence in the punitive damage phase. The department store chain admitted some liability for the accident, because the escalator had a history of catching shoppers’ shoes. (“Dillard’s must pay $9 million to girl maimed by escalator, South Florida Sun Sentinel,” Feb. 1)

The jury, however, assigned only fifteen percent of the blame to the little girl’s mother, who left her five year-old unsupervised in the store. At the time of the incident, the girl was playing on the down escalator, running and jumping up it in the wrong direction. She slipped while doing so and her fingers became trapped. (Jamie Thompson, “Dillard’s blames escalator accident on girl’s misuse,” St. Pete Times, Jan. 28)

Apparently, some members of the jury have not seen the movie Mallrats, which clearly warns of this danger. At least two jurors wanted to give the little girl all $35 million asked by her lawyers. (Jamie Thompson, “Settlement Surprises Jurors,” St. Pete Times, Feb. 2)

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