Woman stuck by needle in Target in parking lot awarded $4.6 million

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2016/09/12/woman-stuck-by-needle-in-targe.html


good. hope she gets the full amount.


Target should have paid the stupid medical bills. They probably deserve to have to pay the full amount.

That said, I’m not looking forward to this turning into the next “McDonald’s Coffee” media frenzy that decontextualizes one court settlement to convince the public that we need tort reform to protect the poor corporations from frivolous lawsuits.


How exactly is Target liable because a needle got into their parking lot? Honestly, someone explain to me how the store is culpable? Maybe Target should take down those signs reading, “Please discard your used needles in our parking lot?”


That full amount is a bit silly for something outside the store, but you are right in that it will become another case cited for tort reform. The McDonald’s case at least was about hot coffee delivered by McDonald’s; unless there is some story about how the needle came from the target pharmacy, I’m not sure how the link between “found needle outside” and “target is responsible for the needle being there.”

The thing I will immediately get sick of is the “she overreacted to the needle” comments.


Unlike the McDonalds coffee, which McDonalds actually made and served, Target didn’t have anything to do with the needle. Nor broken bottles, errant shopping carts, or other drivers who may injure you.

I too am confused where the legal responsibility is.

If someone left a needle in my yard, would I be responsible? Do I have to do a hazard patrol 3 time a day to insure I don’t get held libel?

ETA - and the McDonalds coffee wasn’t just hot coffee, it was stupid, negligently hot coffee.


She won’t. No one ever gets the full amount in these cases. For this, I am grateful. $12,000 would be OK (not fair, not reasonable, but OK). More than that is unfair, unreasonable, and shows that our civil lawsuit system is insane and needs an overhaul.


I wonder who she would have sued if it was on a public street? The city?


Not every problem is correctly considered purely on the basis of strict liability.

Insurance companies have long since figured out that a little good will goes a long way


Even as far as the bottom line, which lesson Target may (possibly) learn from this award.

1 Like

Well, she did over-react. “Swatted” is a stupid thing to do with a hypo.


IANAL, but the law is pretty clear on this one. Property owners have a legal duty to make sure people that they invite onto their property are safe from harm.

I’m pretty sure this includes you and your house too, i.e. if someone that you invited over for dinner stepped on a needle that was located on your property, you would be held personally responsible.

Luckily, you have homeowner’s insurance. I suspect Target has liability insurance. Perhaps they insure themselves, which is why they were unwilling to pay the bills?

Again, IANAL and all that.


Considering that she didn’t get any diseases from the needle, $4,600,000 is insane.

EDIT: They probably should have paid her medical bills, though.
And the amount will almost certainly be reduced upon appeal

1 Like

I guess I’d have to say 12,000 is unfair, monetary damages in a case like this is often adjusted based on making the loser feel the sting of their loss. Target paying 12,000 is just not going to get them to change a damn thing ever.


Most of that is probably punitive damages, i.e. punishing Target for allowing the incident to happen and trying to evade responsibility for it. Those kinds of damages against multibillion dollar corporations have to be large in order to have any punitive effect.


Sort of to your question:
Up here in Massachusetts, you can have an in-ground pool. You’ll have to keep a fence around it, though. And most insurance companies will require a minimum $1,000,000 rider too.
If some drunk asshole hops the fence and falls into the pool, you’re on the hook.
Hell, a burglar falls through your skylight onto your kitchen counter and destroys their back? That’s on you.
So, yeah. If you’ve got needles in your yard, that’d be a problem. You could try to prove you’d done your due diligence to ensure your open yard was safe, but you’re still at risk.

ETA: The burglar example is poor. I apologize. I’m leaving it, as several posts reference it and wouldn’t make sense were I to remove the example. My apologies.


Target owns and maintains the parking lot and must keep it clean and safe for their customers.

If someone left a needle in my yard, would I be responsible? Do I have to do a hazard patrol 3 time a day to insure I don’t get held libel?

Maybe. Consult your attorney and your homeowner’s insurance policy.


Going out on a limb here, but I suspect the initial decision to not pay was made by the general manager of the store in question, and his sole consideration was: “How will a goodwill medical payment of $12k, which will come straight off the bottom line, affect my quarterly performance metrics?”


That was a case where the school painted over the skylight, was warned about it, and someone was up there retrieving a ball and fell through. Fear mongered all over hell and back by Limbaugh and his ilk.


You’re not a parent, I take it. I think most parents would absolutely swat a dangerous item out of their child’s hands – even if it’s not the best response, it is definitely the most common.


My personal sense of unfairness in this cases arises not because I think it is unfair that Target should pay $4.6M, but because I think it unfair that the woman should receive $4.6M. Target does indeed have a responsibility to keep their publicly accessible premises safe. But a better outcome (in the universe of my moral code) would be for most, if not all, this money to go towards legal aid for those unable to afford it (or some other sort of deserving cause).