Jury gives Costco shopper $1.05M for store injuries
By Christie Wilson
Neighbor Island Editor
WAILUKU, Maui A Maui jury yesterday awarded more than $1 million to a woman who was injured when two box springs fell on her at the Kahului Costco.
The verdict was almost four times the amount Marela Crockett, a 58-year-old Kula homemaker, had sought, but in his closing remarks, Wailuku attorney James Krueger urged jurors to strike a blow for consumer rights by holding the store responsible for the safety of its operations.
Honolulu attorney Francis Nakamoto, representing Costco, said after the trial that the circumstances did not warrant the hefty jury award. He said he hadn't had a chance to talk to his client about whether to appeal.
Crockett had gone to the store March 6, 2002, to buy a roasted chicken for dinner when the box springs, which were standing in a rack against the wall, fell forward and knocked her across the aisle into another rack.
Her doctors testified during the five-day trial in 2nd Circuit Court that she suffered permanent injuries to the spinal disks in her neck and a torn right rotator cuff and bicep tendon.
Although Crockett is able to walk, she is in constant pain, suffers headaches and numbness, lost full use of her right arm and will likely require shoulder replacement surgery, according to testimony.
Krueger said Costco was negligent by failing to place a metal bar or chain across the box-spring display to prevent the items from tipping forward. He said the store had no written policy or standards for safe display methods.
After less than two hours of deliberation, a jury awarded Crockett $800,000 for pain and suffering and $250,000 for medical and related expenses.