“Woman Stuck by Needle in Target Parking Lot Awarded $4.6M”

Mrs. Garrison’s suit, in Anderson County, S.C., says she was in a Target store parking lot “when her daughter picked up a hypodermic needle. Garrison swatted it out of her hand and was stuck in her own palm. Garrison was bedridden because of medication prescribed because of the potential risk of HIV.” A jury awarded $4.6 million. [Insurance Journal]


  • Here’s a passing thought. Assuming the plaintiff should get anything at all, how much life insurance does Mrs. Garrison have? That can be used as a ballpark indicator of how much she thinks her life is worth. Then award her that or a portion thereof.

    $4.6M seems excessive, especially for something that is not obvious negligence. The truly unsafe action was performed by Mrs. Garrison herself. As such, I would be inclined to let her pay her own bill. The only way I foresee judging Target to be at fault is if the needle was in plain sight for a day, such that they would reasonably be expected to dispose of it. And of course the crime was committed by God knows who. Fat chance of getting justice there.

    My thinking is influenced by my experience as a referee. If a soccer player gets hurt while acting recklessly, I will often let the consequences speak for themselves. If their coach wants a foul called against the opposing team, I will explain that I am considering granting a foul against the injured player for reckless play. That always shuts them up.

  • Come on D!! You are using logic and common sense. Do you know how many lawyers would be out of work if we were allowed to do that?

  • D, much of what you set forth here has no foundation in the law. First, the idea of using life insurance policies as a barometer of the value of what the victim thinks of the value of their lives has never been proposed anywhere by anybody for a reason.

    This thinking is flawed for so many reasons but there is one that is most obvious: you do not bake into the equation the horror of dying of HIV.

    We don’t value cases based on how severe the negligence is. The jury found obvious negligence because they found negligence. You don’t know the fact yet you know the facts.

    Finally, you are a terrible soccer referee. You say you are “considering a foul” after the coach complains? I’m hoping you are not going to ref a game my children are playing in. That is not your experience as a ref informing your thinking. That is you just being unreasonable.

    This is an old post and you will likely never see this response. I just find this post particularly annoying so I felt like venting.

  • Ron,

    The “referee” analogy is right up my alley as I refereed sports at many levels for many years.

    The point I believe D is trying to make (albeit awkwardly) is that fouls are often judged if the illegal action gained the party an advantage.

    So if a player does something illegal that results in their injury and an advantage to the other team, most if not all referees won’t call the foul in most cases. Referees that do are known in the business as “OOO’s” or “overly officious officials.” The penalty on top of the injury is seen as piling on, especially in a game like soccer where allowing play to continue is a penalty itself.

    As for being a “terrible soccer referee,” I am not sure whether you referee or not. From your comments you don’t seem to, but that is an assumption on my part. For the record, there isn’t a youth league, rec league or high school league that isn’t in desperate need of officials. Step up the plate, Ron. Stop being a “soccer dad” or “Little League dad” and put on a shirt and work a game.

    In this case, the injured party was injured by her own irresponsible actions. She should not have been rewarded for that.

  • Poor Ron. He can’t even begin to understand why ordinary people find this verdict excessive. He flays commenter D about his “flawed” reasoning for failing to account for the “horror of dying of HIV”. The article never says she died of HIV or that she was ever actually infected with that (or any other blood borne pathogen). Had she, $4.6M might be a bargain.

    The linked article thin on detail but suggests plaintiff was put on post-exposure prophylaxis after an accidental needle stick. Apparently, some careless person left it at the Target parking lot and Target failed to discover it. The plaintiff’s daughter picked it up and plaintiff swatted it from her, getting pricked in the process. There’s no detail about how Target was supposed to know about the needle but I presume the case against the retailer was based on constructive notice. It seems the jury agreed.

    I fail to make the leap to $4.6M in damages. Again we have to glean from the limited facts in the article. Plaintiff was “bedridden” supposedly. Post-exposure prophylaxis can require bed rest and lasts about four weeks. I believe limited “bed rest” was a more likely damage attributable to the needle stick. Yes, there would be a short-term fear of contracting HIV or hepatitis but that could be ruled out with later testing. (Interim counseling about the odds of contracting a disease from a random needle stick could help allay the concerns of the plaintiff).

    Plaintiff offered to settle for $12,000, which is a claim value in line with the analysis above: four weeks of concern and limited bed rest. Maybe Target offered $750 because it didn’t know who dropped the needle or how long it had been there so there was a reasonable notice defense. This is ‘jackpot justice’ because the damages outlined in the article or which I can speculate or infer have no basis in reality.

    The article says this would be one of the largest verdicts in Anderson County, if it stands. So, this claim is worth more than any orthopedic injury, death, or disfigurement that ever went to verdict in that County? Good grief. Why can’t Ron simply acknowledge the possibility that the jury was runaway on this one or perhaps someone can provide more case facts that support such a damage award?