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Target’s Wet Look Floors Are an Accident Waiting to Happen

What is the one thing you notice when you go shopping at any Target store? The shiny floors and it isn’t a coincidence. At the highest corporate levels of Target, a decision was made to sacrifice consumer safety in favor of bright clean look that would entice customers to shop at Target.

Target home offices are located in Minneapolis, Minnesota. There are more than 1700 Target stores in the United States. In a recent case in South Florida, Target’s procedures and policies were placed under a microscope and the results are disturbing.

The documents and testimony in the commercial premises liability case against Target conclusively demonstrated that Target instituted a company-wide policy of maintaining “WET LOOK” floors. In furtherance of this policy, Target specifically choose certain types of tiles and mandated specific waxing/cleaning procedures. In addition, Target incorporated lighting choices to enhance the bright shiny look of the stores.

In this one particular case, Target was forced to provide all Guest Incident Reports for a three year period for one store. Target objected and fought to limit the scope of the disclosure. After extensive arguments before the court, Target successfully limited the disclosure of incident reports to some degree.

Target’s ultimate disclosure did not include: 1) employee reports of injury falls, 2) employee reports of falls without injuries, 3) guest reports of falls without injuries, 4) reported but undocumented guest injury falls when the guest did not want to make a report or provide personal information, 5) any unwitnessed or unreported falls.

Even with the limits of the disclosure, Target produced 106 “Guest Incident Reports” for a three year period – for one single store in South Florida. Seventy five of those incident reports reveal reports of injuries from slip and falls on clear liquids. Again, these reports do not include slip and fall injuries to employees, vendors or guests who refused to make a report.

If a reasonable person extrapolated the 75 slip and fall injury reports filed by Target guests across all 1700 Target stores it would total more than 125,000 slip and fall injuries at Target stores. So, one might wonder, does Target headquarters know about this problem? The unfortunate answer is yes.

Each Target Guest Incident Reports produces three copies. One goes to the customer; another goes to the Target store where the accident happened; and the last copy goes to Target headquarters in Minnesota. So Target management definitely knew about the 106 incident reports at the South Florida store. They also knew about all the injured customers at the other 1700 stores nationwide.

Target set a specific standard for the floors in all the stores. They use VCT (vinyl composition tile). Target’s Housekeeping Scope of Work mandates that the floors maintain a “wet look”. Lighting is also maximized to enhance the desired “wet look”. Unfortunately for Target customers and employees, these high gloss floors present a visual identification problem. As a former Target management member testified “Whether it’s milk, a very light liquid, or a clear liquid, whether it’s water or detergent, it’s difficult to see, almost impossible to see…just walking by, chances are you are going to miss it.” He also testified that he himself and other Target employees had also slipped and sustained injuries on these same floors.

It is clear from the testimony and documents in one single South Florida personal injury case that Target knew about the hazardous conditions that exist in their stores. It is equally clear that Target chose to sacrifice their guest’s safety in favor of a bright, clean “wet floor” look.

In our analysis, sooner or later Target will be at risk for punitive damages unless they change their ways. Until then, expect Target to use all available defenses and strategies to protect the bottom lines. The stores will continue with the bright shiny look because Target must believe it increase sales. But eventually, Target will be made to answer for choosing profits over customer safety.

The Miami personal injury lawyers at the Wolfson Law Firm represent people who were injured at Target stores all over Florida. We continue to review court cases against Target to gather evidence and testimony that may help our clients in their injury cases against Target. We also accept referrals and requests for co-counsel from other lawyers for cases involving Target accident and injury cases. Feel free to call us at (305) 285-1115 for your free and confidential consultation.