Grocery Industry Has Been On Notice – Now It’s Time to Do More
In March 2013, I wrote a blog post about a series of storefront crashes involving grocery stores. There had been recent crashes involving injuries and fatalities at a Publix store, two at Trader Joe’s stores, another at a Safeway store, and a particularly horrible crash at a Food 4 Less store in Las Vegas. At the conclusion of this post, I wrote the following:
The grocery industry – this includes the stores themselves, the developers who build their buildings for them, the property managers at the centers where they are located, and the architects and consultants who design them – are now collectively on notice that failure to design safer parking lots, failure to install tested safety bollards, and paying lip service to employee and customer safety while turning a blind eye to the elephant in the parking lot will no longer be an effective defense. Not from shareholders, not from unions, not from customers, and not from plaintiff lawyers.
In the nearly ten years since I wrote that, many in the grocery industry took a serious look at this risk. Trader Joe’s started a campaign to install safety bollards in front of their existing stores in a program they called “Universal Parameters for Site Safety Low-Speed Barriers.” Publix also installed crash-tested bollards at their entrances up and down the East Coast. Both of these programs are ongoing. One grocery chain that elected NOT to take simple safety precautions as Food 4 Less, owned by Kroger, the largest grocery store chain in America.
This brings us to the purpose of this little history lesson.
In March 2013, a driver in a pickup truck crashed into the unprotected entrance of the Food 4 Less grocery store in Las Vegas. The vehicle traveled 200 feet into the store, striking a number of people and causing a huge amount of damage. This was the headline:
Nine hospitalized after pickup crashes into Food 4 Less in Las Vegas
Now in November 2022, we have a repeat incident almost identical: a vehicle crashed into the unprotected entrance of the Food 4 Less grocery store in Crest Hill Illinois. The vehicle traveled nearly 100 feet into the store, striking a number of people and causing a huge amount of damage.
This is the headline:
3 injured when car crashes into Food 4 Less in Crest Hill, employees say
Vehicle inside the unprotected Food 4 Less in Crest Hill Illinois in 2022
Vehicle inside the unprotected Food 4 Less in Las Vegas Nevada in 2013
So nearly 10 years later, yes, the grocery store industry remains on notice of the hazardous condition at their unprotected entrances. And yes, Kroger – a $138 BILLION company with 2,750 stores nationwide – is on notice not only of the risk but also of their failure to take meaningful steps to protect employees and customers from storefront crashes. A failure that has been ongoing for the last 10 years. I’m pretty sure that plaintiff lawyers will take notice.