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Court holds dropping mannequin on customer can be negligent; reverses summary disposition

Pamela Arsenault was hurt when an employee of Designer Wearhouse Center, Inc., apparently knocked a mannequin off a high shelf, causing it to strike Arsenault in the head.  She filed a lawsuit alleging negligence.  The trial judge granted the store's motion for summary disposition, holding that the unsecured mannequin was a "condition on the premises" and that Arsenault had provided inadequate proof that the condition should have been known to the store employees.

Surprisingly, one judge dissented and would have affirmed the trial judge's ruling.  Judge Donald Owens would hold that there was no proof the unsecured mannequin "was caused by the storekeeper or its employees" or that they should have known about it.  After all, it is well known that gremlins often enter retail stores at night and dislodge the fixtures so that they can fall and injury people... Luckily for Arsenault, on this day, fairer minds prevailed and the store's insurer was not granted "political immunity."

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