Haywood Rosales v. Home Depot: a “glued to his seat” encore

It appears an ill-natured prankster spread adhesive on the toilet seat of a Home Depot in Florissant, Mo., in suburban St. Louis. The hapless patron who was next to sit down claims in his suit that the earlier, similar incident in Colorado (which we covered here and here) should have put Home Depot on notice that “a strong possibility that instances of copycat behavior would occur”. With that awareness in hand, the retail chain could have — what? sent in an employee to check for seat-gluing after each time a customer used the facility? (The Smoking Gun, Jun. 13).


  • Premises liability claims—such as slip & fall or other accidents generally involving transitory hazardous conditions are euphemistically known as “how brown is the banana peel” claims. Meaning, of course, you focus your investigation on how long the hazard existed before it was discovered by the property owner. This assumes that the property owner didn’t create the condition (drop the peel) himself, in which case a case for negligence is more easily made. The browner the peel, the longer it had been left on the floor and an easier case for constructive notice (and negligence) exists.

    Taking that line of analysis to this suit: the sticky nature of the adhesive is generally short lived as the VOCs in them evaporate after application. In my experience, within twenty or thirty minutes adhesives are no longer sticky or gel-like but solid and less sticky. Is the Home Depot to hire someone to check the toilet seats every twenty minutes? What’s reasonable? Did they make those “for your protection” toilet seat covers available? Did the plaintiff use them? Why didn’t he look where he was sitting? Wouldn’t the pranksters apply the adhesive in a manner that would remain undetected until someone suffered from the prank?

    Copycat behavior runs both ways—prankster and would-be plaintiff. I’d investigate this claim closely to rule out a set-up.

    And, the plaintiff’s argument for Home Depot’s actual notice is lame. Just because Home Depot was aware of a prior similar circumstance does not make them aware of this particular circumstance any more than a slip & fall at any of their other stores makes them liable for subsequent falls elsewhere. I suppose it does serve to put Home Depot on notice to check for glue on toilet seats.

    I also cringe at the venue where the suit is filed. It’s not friendly—especially for corporate defendants.

  • It appears the second link to your reference of the earlier Colorado incident actually links to the current suit at TSG. Correct me if I’m wrong.

  • Couldn’t help but notice that section 3 of the complaint claims the adhesive “rendered the toilet dangerous and unreasonably safe . . .” That’s either very poor adhesive or a really bad typo.

  • Link fixed now, thanks for catching.

  • This makes a strong argument for removing public access to toilets. However, an easier solution would be to just have an employee spread vasoline on the seat every hour, and then the adhesive wouldn’t stick. Less bathroom cleaning would probably be a result too.

  • Both these cases have happened to men right? Wouldn’t you expect that the seats would be used less often in a mens’ room? I mean, in a womens’ room the seats are used almost every time (exceptions being a woman bringing in a small boy to use the womens’ room). I guess what I’m saying is that the chances of “catching” a victim in the mens’ room is small and if there’s such a small window of opportunity in the viability of the glue, it’s an even smaller chance of catching a victim. That’s a lot of waiting for a “joke” that may not even go off.

  • I have no doubt that there is a copycat element here. The victim no doubt painted the seat himself and had an accomplice to remove the incriminating adhesive container. He copied the earlier similar fake claim by a ‘victim’ who glued himself to a seat.