A once “cheerful, bright, hard working and optimistic” North Vancouver woman was awarded more than $750,000 after she slipped and fell in “a large pool of laundry detergent” six years ago.
According to B.C. Supreme Court documents released Wednesday, Lori Lee Harrison was shopping at the North Vancouver Superstore on March 25, 2012, along with her son Chris and her aunt Irmgard.
After shopping for an hour-and-a-half, the trio went up to the till to pay for their items, when Harrison realized she forgot to purchase a present for her nephew’s birthday dinner that night.
The three shoppers went out to their car to unload the groceries before Harrison and her son returned to the store to purchase a Kinder Surprise chocolate treat and a card for her nephew.
As she walked to Aisle 1 to buy the chocolate, she stepped into a “large pool of liquid laundry detergent” and and began to slide towards “end cap” shelves at the end of the aisle.
Harrison said she stuck out her hands “in a manner akin to what one does when surfing” as she slid towards the end cap before hitting her left eyebrow on it.
The force of the impact pushed her backwards, and she recalled thinking that she was going to hit her head on the floor.
The next thing Harrison remembers is waking up on the floor near the end cap with a woman holding her hand, according to court documents.
She saw blood from the blow to her head on her hands, as well as the woman’s, and heard her son “screaming for an ambulance.”
Three Superstore employees, including the manager, came to help Harrison and mop up the six-foot-wide mix of blood and laundry detergent on the floor around her.
First responders arrived on scene and took her by ambulance to Lions Gate Hospital.
Two witnesses confirmed that Harrison had fallen near the end cap where the floor was covered in a “light, shiny, transparent liquid on the floor with bubbles on the edge of it,” and one testified that she had heard “a horrific thud” as Harrison fell, although she didn’t see the fall.
Harrison’s son testified that when he arrived at his mother’s side, she was lying in a pool of laundry detergent.
In his decision, Justice Jasvinder S. Basran wrote that the testimony of Harrison and the three witnesses seemed accurate and was enough to prove that Harrison had slipped on a large pool of liquid laundry detergent, hit her forehead on the end cap of Aisle 1, and subsequently fell backwards and hit the back left of her head on the floor.
Basran further wrote that although Loblaws, the owner of Superstore, had a policy of regularly inspecting floors and documenting them in a “sweep log,” the company was unable to produce a log for the grocery area where Harrison fell.
Harrison said she “felt woozy and had lost time” right after the accident. She didn’t remember the fall, parts of the ambulance ride and “reported blurry vision as well as significant pain” from the accident.
She’s had “persistent and ongoing headaches” as well as “dizziness, imbalance, nausea, difficulties with concentration and memory, insomnia, and fatigue” that make it difficult to use a computer or concentrate.
Regan Smith, a longtime friend, said Harrison no longer takes pride in her appearance, has gained more than 80 pounds and “is no longer the same person that she was before the accident.”
A neurologist found that Harrison “remains completely disabled due to the combined residual adverse effects of her injuries” from the fall.
Basran found that Harrison was “simply no longer able to work” and awarded her $755,549 in damages to be paid by Loblaws to cover loss of income, the care she will need and non-pecuniary damages.
He also ordered Loblaws to pay the province $6,671 in health-care recovery costs.