Coles customer awarded $90,000 after slipping on grape
By: Cassandra Morgan
Published: 15 December 2016
A single grape has cost supermarket giant Coles more than $90,000 after a shopper slipped on the fruit at a supermarket in Sydney’s west.
Sangeeta Guru, a 40-year-old beautician, was shopping in the Cambridge Gardens store in October 2012 when she fell on the floor, hitting her leg on a trolley.
While on the floor of the supermarket, she looked at the bottom of her thongs and found bits of squashed grape and other fruit that had fallen from the fruit and vegetable section.
An employee came to her aid, telling Ms Guru she hadn’t had a chance to clean up the mess because she’d been on tea break.
On Wednesday, a NSW District Court Judge found that Coles was negligent by not addressing the risk of fallen grapes, despite the employee’s claim she took adequate measures to prevent a hazard.
"I am always out on the floor and constantly checking the grape display as I know how often they are dropped by customers," the employee told the court.
Ms Guru was awarded $90,130 for injuries she told the court she still suffers today, including soft tissue pain that worsens after sitting or walking for long periods of time, ankle pain with “associated occasional swelling and a burning sensation”, and “constant pain in her right knee”.
Judge Levy found Ms Guru was impaired in her ability to participate in leisure activities, like swimming and gym exercise, and to complete housework.
"She has become an unhappy person. Her sleep is also impaired," Judge Levy said in his judgment.
Coles unsuccessfully argued for “contributory negligence”, saying that Ms Guru should have been watching where she was walking.
Judge Levy acknowledged that Ms Guru admitted she was looking at supermarket shelves instead, but said it was understandable in this setting.
"The plaintiff was looking around her for items to purchase. Her surroundings were a supermarket where goods were attractively displayed to induce customers to select particular items for purchase."
Ms Guru initially claimed more than $1 million in damages for economic loss, loss of superannuation and domestic assistance, but Judge Levy found that she was not entitled to damages for any.