Man Sues PetSmart Store For $1 Million After Slipping On Dog Poop

PetSmart is facing a negligence lawsuit over an injury but the real culprit fled the scene on all fours. Robert Holloway, 69, went to PetSmart for bird seed and dog food and slipped on a pile of dog poop. The accident cost him four teeth and a back injury. However, they were four false teeth. He is suing for $1 million.

Holloway didn’t actually fall but rather says that he twisted his body and hit his false teeth on an object.

PetSmart has insisted in its answer that customers know that pets are welcomed at its stores and that these accidents are a common reality.

Generally, stores are obligated to make reasonable efforts at inspection and to make safe conditions in a store for business invitees. Holloway insists that it was negligent to allow “animals to enter the premises and deposit feces in such a manner as to create a dangerous and hazardous condition.” He further alleges that the staff should have detected the poop and cleaned it up before he took the fall. To make matters worse, he insists that this particular dog produced poop that blended into this particular color of floor tile.

He has a strong case under existing law. While the false teeth raise some interesting question, he is also claiming a back injury that required surgery. He admits that he had a pre-existing injury but insisted that the twisting made it worse.

The claim presents an interesting flip side to the recent Canadian case where an attorney was awarded damages for a fall in a bar despite that fact that she had a later accident that aggravated her condition. She claimed that, “but for” the fall, she would not have received such serious injuries in the car accident. Here Holloway is suing on the basis of the later accident as opposed to the pre-existing condition.

PetSmart succeeded in having the case transfered from the Norfolk court to the federal court — presumably under diversity jurisdiction.

The store is following the same course as a lawsuit in 2008 when it was sued for a slip and fall on dog urine. U.S. District Judge Jerome B. Friedman dismissed that lawsuit on the grounds that the female plaintiffs could not show that any store employee knew there was urine on the floor. That would appear to downplay the need for reasonable inspections under common law.

Source: Hampton Roads

Jonathan Turley

31 thoughts on “Man Sues PetSmart Store For $1 Million After Slipping On Dog Poop”

  1. That’s like expecting the park service to pick up all the poop on the walking trail. . .what about the owners?! Maybe he can use some PetSmart discountsto get himself some doggie bandages and treats to help him feel better!!! Really????!!!

  2. Ok I shop at this Petsmart and It is NOT a clean store. And I dont go around looking at a floor when I shop. I expect it to be clean and free of all things that can hurt me. It is their job to keep the floor clean and free. And think about the force it took to knock out 4 false teeth. I am sorry just because they are false does not mean he was not hurt and about his back even though he has a back problem I would think I would twist and turn and flop around to try to keep from falling and no matter it is their job to keep us safe while shopping there if they cannot do this then they should be punished when someone is hurt.

  3. OK, really?!! Doesn’t everyone know that dogs are “customers” at Petsmart. So watch out for the poop should go without saying. I also agree with the comment that the dog’s owner should have cleaned it up. So if you are not going to shop there anymore, can I please have your PetSmart coupons because I will still be there every week.

  4. I think people are sue happy… they are alwats looking for free money. I can come up with lots of things to do in order to sue but I dont because I dont believe it is the right thing to do… For people that shop at PetSmart be smarter than the dumb asses in the world and look where you are walking, stop making up stories about tile colored poop. It is ultimately the pet parents responcibility to clean up after their dog. People can be fined if they let their dog poop and not pick it up so what makes those same people thing that it is ok to go into a store and not clean it up. Granted if an employee knew about the poop and didnt clean it then it would be PetSmarts responcibility but lets face it people are stupid and they figure my dog just pooped on the floor and if I dont say anything to anyone then I wont have to mess with it.I have actually seen people watch their dog poop and look around to see if anyone was watching and if no one seen them then they just walk away like nothing ever happen….

    – PetSmart does not have the money to hire a poop cleaner for every min of every day so that way people caan continue to be lazy and let their dog mess wherever the dog wants to mess. Plus if they did hire a full time poop cleaner then this acident (prolly done on purpose) could still happen.

    – Tile colored poop…. Get real! It was prolly brown and green, very noticible(he prolly seen it and thats why he choose to go down that aisle)

    – missing teeth……… wait the teeth were already fake. (maybe another accident that a different compnay paid for?)

    – back injury…. pre-existing! were you running to hurt yourself (hint: YOURSELF) I mean how fast were you going in order to spin your back outta shape? I have steped in dog poop and all that happe was my shoe smelt like dog poop until I washed it and I told myself – how stupid could I be… Im going to start watching where Im going whenever I go into a pet store.

    Come on people stop thinking about the money and think about if somone came into ur property and slipped and fell on ur dog poop in ur yard hen sued you! Think about it people use your brain!
    ps start looing where you are walking it could actually save your life (at least ur teeth)

  5. Do Andrew Harris, 18, and Michael Cline, 19, shop here? What would be PetSmart’s liability for that happening?

    Now there’s a torts exam question. 😀

  6. Seems like folks have a crappy attitude towards dogs. I have a crappy attitude towards the owners of the dogs that don’t take care of the pets properly. So what amount of fault is the owner liable for failure to clean up after its pet? In some city’s it is a misdemeanor to not have your pet on a lease and to not clean up after it deficates on someone’s property.

  7. I generally take my dog with me to Pets Mart. She peed on the floor once and that was because she had been swimming in a lake (she always ‘bites’ the wave caps). There was a clean-up station very near by.

    Anytime I see a mess in the store I always alert store personnel. I’ll clean up after my dog, but I don’t get paid to clean up after some irresponsible persons’ dog. But store employees do get paid to do that. If the employees can’t keep up with accidents maybe the store should hire somebody to do poop patrol, especially on busy days.

  8. Back injury and broken teeth.

    If I go to a store I’m probably looking just where the marketers have put the pretty shiny things to manipulate me to look…..not the poopy floor. The front door says come in and shop, not come slip and plop. It’s their interior for crap sake…. they have as much obligation to keep thier floors clean or warn people via signage as McDonalds does to warn about hot coffee….I should think.

  9. if a customer’s dog sh*t
    you must not acquit

    really? dog poop colored floor tiles? I didn’t know you could still get those!

    and btw, i go to a dog park where they give away biodegradable scooper bags, they have signs and trash cans everywhere, and people still leave dog poop for everyone to step in.

  10. This guy’s damages seem a little suspect to me, but PetSmart has a duty to keep the premises clean withing a reasonable period of time. That being said, there is an assumption of risk when a customer enters a pet store that allows customers pets to enter with them.

  11. Here they have to get the shopping carts out of the parking lot or pay a fine … perhaps there should be a threatened fine from the health dept … another silly law but then laws get passed because businesses like these fail to use common sense in the first place.

  12. mespo,

    “… to behave like barbarians (or Texans — not sure which)…”

    lol 😆

  13. Why don’t they just clean it up faster and more often? Why don’t they have the dog owners clean it up themselves like they do outside? Why don’t they have a specail person running around checking the poop/urine situation?

    The idea that its not your responsibility because you think its ok to leave dog crap lying around on the floor just doesn’t cut it with me. Or with my Mom. I say take them for all they’ve got.

  14. Seems like the kind of thing that ought to be strict liability to me… If Petsmart wants the economic benefit that follows from welcoming owners to bring their pets into the store, they must accept responsibility for the undesirable consequences as well.

  15. I thought Friedman had the prior case wrong even though it could not be proven that PetSmart “knew or should have known” that the urine was there in sufficient time to clean it up prior to the fall. This notice requirement is a bonanza for shopkeepers and their defense lawyers since it places an almost impossible burden on the plaintiff to prove when the allegedly latent defect got there and by whom. Absent an employee saying, “Duh, I was supposed to clean that up an hour ago” there is very little the plaintiff can show since the store controls all the evidence. We’ve made some headway by arguing that the store policy was violated when they didn’t do “floor inspections” as required every thirty minutes and thus showing they knew of the propensity of such harm to occur, but the results are hit and miss. Aisle video cameras help, but the tapes or hard drives always seem to be missing or erased unless they show something damaging to plaintiff’s case.

    I think a defendant like PetSmart that encourages animals to come onto the property differs markedly from the mom and pop grocery store that misses such a defect. PetSmart knows pets poop, and even places stations around to prove their knowledge. If they are willing to solicit his type of atypical “customer” they should be charged with the knowledge of the harm the four legged crowd could and do cause when nature calls.

    It closely resembles some astonishing steakhouse promotions of placing buckets of peanuts on the table and then encouraging customers to throw the shells on the floor. This results in falls and injuries with no apparent benefit except to encourage well-meaning patrons to behave like barbarians (or Texans — not sure which). It is an unnecessary risk of doing business imposed on the customer and any such novelty ends when the injuries begin. And for all of you, “they assumed the risk” apologists out there, do you really expect the shopkeeper to do nothing to prevent feces from being deposited on the floor during business hours except perhaps erecting a few kiosks and encouraging folks to cleanup after their pets? Fortune Five Hundreds make their billions knowing and manipulating human nature. Do you really think they are this naïve or could cost be the reason for the bumpkinism?

  16. Elephants ‘R Us has an even worse problem with this sort of thing, but no one has ever won a lawsuit against them by claiming they “didn’t see it”.

  17. Assumption of the risk seems to fit nicely or maybe even comparative negligence.

  18. Perhaps Pet Smart should post warnings on their windows and inside the store stating something like “Warning: This establishment frequently has piles of dog poop on the floors. Enter at your own risk. We are not responsible for slip-and-falls resulting from your own carelessness.”

    Isn’t the answer to prevent shoppers from bringing their untrained, pooping pets into the store with them? Or perhaps they should provide doggie diapers at the front door?

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