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The Villages
Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Publix accuses Villager of ‘voluntarily’ getting hit by U-boat cart

Publix Super Markets Inc. has accused a Villager of “voluntarily” getting into the way of a U-boat cart allegedly being operated by an employee in order to claim “unreasonable” medical expenses and sue the organization.

Last month, attorneys representing the grocery chain made a series of court filings in response to a lawsuit filed by Diane Riordan on Aug. 23 in the fifth judicial circuit court for Sumter County.

In its affirmative defenses, the company claims Riordan’s “negligence” was the “sole proximate cause” of any alleged “injuries and damages” that she sustained. The company says Riordan knew of the “existence of the danger” and “voluntarily exposed herself to the alleged danger.”

“The danger complained of in the complaint was an open and obvious condition which was readily apparent to the Plaintiff or any other person on the property was known, foreseeable and readily detectible to the Plaintiff,” according to the company’s answer.

According to her attorneys, Orlando-based Dellecker, Wilson, King, McKenna, Ruffier & Sos LLP, Riordan was visiting the Publix Super Market at Magnolia Plaza on Aug. 2, 2022. During her visit, she stopped to “inspect candle” when she was allegedly struck “suddenly and without warning” by a U-boat being operated by a Publix employee.

Publix at Magnolia Plaza
Publix at Magnolia Plaza (2135 Everglades Lane, The Villages)

After Riordan was allegedly struck by the cart, her attorney’s claim she “experienced a sharp pain in her left ankle and was knocked to the floor.” According to the complaint, glass became “embedded” in Riordan’s hands and arms, and she experienced “pain in her right hip, shoulders, chest, back, arms, neck, and head.”

The company says that any “alleged dangerous condition” could not have existed for a “sufficient length of time,” because the company “regularly and adequately” inspects its stores for “any defects, perils, traps, or other dangerous conditions.”

“No such conditions were known or existed for a sufficient length of time so that [Publix Super Market Inc] would have either actual or constructive knowledge of the alleged dangerous condition,” reads the company’s answer to the complaint.

The company says Riordan’s medical expenses should be reduced or eliminated because they “are unreasonable when compared to the charges in the relevant medical community.” It says that any injury or damage that Riordan sustained was based in part or whole on a “pre-existing and/or congenital and/or hereditary condition.”

Riordan is seeking “damages that exceed the sum of $50,000,” exclusive of interest and costs.

On Sept. 28, a notice to take Riordan’s deposition was filed in court. She is scheduled to be disposed on Dec. 1.

The Publix at Magnolia Plaza opened in March 2021.

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