Cheeks v. AutoZone, Inc.: On Pedestrian Injuries in Car Accident Cases

Cheeks v. AutoZone, Inc., a case from the Supreme Court of Mississippi, involved plaintiff who was hit by a car at defendant’s auto parts store. According to court records, plaintiff drove to the store and parked on the side of the building where there was no sidewalk or protective bollards. A bollard is a round post made of steel or concrete to stop a moving vehicle. At this store, there were bollards at the front side of the store, and they were painted bright orange.

bollard-1271697-m.jpgAs plaintiff walked to the front of the store, he reached for the entrance door and heard a warning. He turned and saw a car about to hit him. The car was only a few feet away when he first noticed it. He tried to run behind one of the bollards, but it was too late to prevent getting hit. Plaintiff was seriously injured.

As our pedestrian accident attorneys in Rock Hill understand, car accidents involving pedestrians often result in substantial personal injury to the victim.

Plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the auto parts store and the driver. The auto parts store responded to one of plaintiff’s interrogatories (written questions for an opposing party) by saying bollards are a safety measure for the protection of pedestrians.

One the day of trial, plaintiff agreed to dismiss the driver from the case. At trial, plaintiff testified that he worked on two or three cars at his repair shop the morning of the accident and then went with someone to pick up a car jack. On their way home, the two men decided to stop at the defendant’s auto parts store. The driver who hit plaintiff testified that he was there to get new wiper blades and that the employees instructed him to drive up the handicapped ramp and get under the canopy, so they could help change his wiper blades. It was drizzling at the time of the accident.

According to his testimony, as he pulled up to the canopy, he had a seizure and lost control of his vehicle and hit plaintiff. The store employees denied telling the driver to drive under the canopy.

Plaintiff had two experts testify at trial. One expert testified that plaintiff did the only reasonable thing he had time to do by jumping behind the bollard. The second expert testified that the store was negligent by not having enough bollards and in having a ramp wide enough for a car to drive up it.

Defendant offered testimony that the bollards were there to protect the store from smash and grab robberies and not pedestrians. Defendant also called a passenger in the driver’s car, who said that he did have a seizure while driving, but this witness did not remember any store employees speaking with him about windshield wipers.

The jury found for plaintiff and awarded $2.58 million. Defendant filed a motion known as a JNOV asking the trial judge to overturn the jury verdict. The judge granted the motion based on a finding that plaintiff’s testimony was not credible.

On appeal, the court found that the determination of credibility was a matter for the jury and the jury’s finding that he was credible and defendant was liable for this injury was proper. The court reversed and remanded the case so that the jury verdict could be reinstated.

Contact the Rock Hill pedestrian injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.

Additional Resources:
Cheeks v. AutoZone, Inc.:, Sept. 24, 2014, Mississippi Supreme Court

More Blog Entries:

11th Circuit: No Coverage, Duty to Indemnify for Intentional Tort Behind the Wheel, Sept. 10, 2014, Rock Hill Car Accident Lawyer Blog

Contact Information