Australia’s largest household hardware chain ordered to pay compensation to customer splashed with bleach from defective bottle

PUBLISHED 23 May 2017

On or around March, 2013 our client was a lawful entrant at Australia’s largest household hardware chain at Thornleigh, being a suburb in the Hornsby Shire of New South Wales.

Our client was in the store for the purposes of shopping. She wanted to purchase some bleach. She was directed to the aisle where she would find the bleach. The bleach was lined up against the floor. Our client picked up the bottle of bleach and proceeded to the check out where the item was scanned and paid for. Once our client was in the carpark she proceeded to her car to pack the items she purchased.

After she had opened the boot to place her items inside the boot of her, the lid of the bleach bottle came undone and bleach sprayed up over the client’s clothes and onto her face and eyes.

The incident was reported to the manager. The manager said to her that the seal was broken on the bottle. The client’s clothes were wet with bleach. The store manager gave her a shirt from the store and they replaced the bottle for her.

Our client saw her family doctor. She was provided with eye drops and cream and referred to an eye clinic in relation to her ongoing symptoms with both of her eyes.

Sadly Australia’s largest household hardware chain was not prepared to accept liability with respect to our client’s injuries, losses and damages arising from the accident.

It was alleged by our client that the household hardware chain had a duty of care to ensure that the lids on the bottles of bleach that were for purchase were safe, secure and free from any defects and fit for their intended purpose.

Our client alleged by way of particulars of negligence that the hardware chain had failed to ensure the bottle seal was not broken, failed to adequately inspect the bottle and stored the bottle in an area where it was subject to damage.

In the alternative, it was alleged that at all material times a contract existed between our client and the hardware chain and that an implied warranty was given by them that the goods were of a merchandisable quality. By providing a bottle of bleach that opened in circumstances as referred to above was in breach of the contract and in breach of the relevant legislation including the sale of goods and the competition and consumer legislation.

As a result of the household hardware chain not being prepared to accept liability in relation to our client’s claim, we launched legal proceedings against them in the matter.

We obtained a liability expert report which substantiated the particulars of negligence against the hardware chain on behalf of our client.

Our client suffered injuries to her eyes, chest, a rash on her neck and chest due to the consequences of the bleach, burning sensation in the eyes, dry eye syndrome in both eyes needing to wear sunglasses all of the time, loss of vision in both eyes and shock and psychological injury arising from the accident.

We arranged for our client to be independently medically examined and assessed to confirm the nature of the client’s injuries and disabilities. These medical reports including the medical treatment reports from the client’s treating doctors and specialists were provided to the legal representatives of the hardware chain.

We provided detailed particulars in relation to our client’s claim in respect of her injuries and continuing disabilities and particularly her heads of damages for permanent impairment and pain and suffering, past and future treatment expenses and domestic care and assistance.

In its defence the hardware chain denied the particulars of negligence alleged against them, denied any breach of contract and denied our client’s injury, losses and damage arising from the accident. In fact, they blamed our client for the accident in her failing to properly inspect the cap/lid on the bottle of bleach prior to purchasing the item. This made our client quite upset and angry that they would accept that the bottle was defective at the time when the manager said to her that the seal was broken on the bottle and then subsequently denied her injury, her losses and damages.

Our client proceeded with the claim to hearing.

Prior to the Hearing of the matter, the hardware chain was ordered by the court to particulate in a settlement conference to narrow the liability and medical issues.

After extended discussions, they agreed to settle our client’s claim on the basis that she received a substantial award of compensation in damages in relation to her injuries, losses and damages arising from the accident. At the end of the day our client was very happy with the outcome in that the hardware chain ultimately accepted to pay her damages in compensation in relation to her injuries which she considered she was not at fault for as she alleged from the very beginning.

Conclusion:-

If you are a shopper or customer who is attending any of the household hardware chains and you suffer injuries on their premises due to their fault, you may be entitled to receive a substantial award of compensation for damages in relation to your injuries and the effect that these injuries have had upon you for the rest of your life.

In this case our client was a customer who was shopping at Australia’s largest household hardware chain when she purchased a bottle of bleach from one of its aisles and unbeknown to her the seal was broken on the bleach bottle. Whilst placing it in the back of her car in the carpark of the hardware chain, the lid of the bleach bottle came undone and bleach sprayed all over our client’s clothes and on her to face and eyes resulting in her suffering serious injuries.

Our client was able to pursue a claim for compensation in damages as a result of their negligence, including by way of a contract to substantiate her claim for injuries, losses and damages.

Once we were able to provide a liability expert report and medical expert evidence, the hardware chain agreed to settle our client’s claim on the basis that she did receive a substantial award of compensation in damages for her injuries, losses and damages.

For a free no obligation consultation, please contact our toll free number 1800 004 878 so that an appointment can be arranged for you to attend our office to protect any legal rights that you may have arising from any accident that you have at any household hardware chain whilst attending their premises for the purposes of shopping.

Call us now on 1800 004 878 to book a free appointment with one of my compensation experts, or email your enquiry.