Back in 2011, a massive tornado swept through Missouri, ripping apart most buildings and homes in its way. One building that was destroyed was a Home Depot home-improvement store. Tragically, dozens of people were trapped inside as the 100,000-pound walls to the store fell. Eight died. In fact, all but 10 of the 73 walls fell inward as the roof was ripped off the store.
Employees told customers to head towards the store’s training room, where they should remain safe. However, as one woman’s husband and two children made their way to the training room, the walls of the store fell on them, crushing them instantly.
The Missouri woman who lost her family in the storm accident recently filed a claim against Home Depot, the store’s designer, and the property owner, a Maryland-based company. The suit alleges that the building was not up to par back when it was built in 2001 and that, had it been constructed properly, the walls would have fallen to the outside rather than fall in on unsuspecting customers.
The defendants to the suit claim that the storm was an “act of God,” and that they should not be held liable for such occurrences, even though the building was torn apart. They further claim that the construction of the store was up to par when it was built back in 2001. In fact, they point to a building code in place at the time of the building’s construction that required big-box stores like this to be able to withstand wind loads of up to 70 miles per hour, and that this particular store was built to withstand wind loads of up to 90 miles per hour.
Since the accident, the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the American Society of Civil Engineers have publicly stated that big-box stores should have storm shelters because they are lacking in strength to provide adequate protection during a tornado. Home Depot followed the advice, and when the company rebuilt the store, it put a storm-safety room in its stores.
Premises Liability Accidents in Maryland
Owners and occupiers of land have a duty to those whom they invite onto their property. Depending on the purpose of the guest’s visit, the kind of duty that is required may vary. For example, a trespasser on private property is owed less of a duty than a customer in a store. The exact nuances of premises liability law should be discussed with an experienced attorney.
Are You in Need of an Attorney?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured while at a store or while on the property of another, you may be entitled to monetary damages to help compensate you for your injuries or losses. To learn more about premises liability law in Maryland, and to speak to a dedicated Maryland personal injury attorney about your potential case, click here, or call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free initial consultation.
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General Motors Prepares to Pay Out Big in Relation to the Numerous Recall Lawsuits Maryland Accident Law Blog, July 16, 2014.