Company seeks dismissal in Menards’ walkway lawsuit

A Georgia elevator company is requesting a judge’s dismissal or jury trial for allegations Menards has made about moving walkways installed in a few of its Midwest stores.

The Eau Claire-based home improvement retailer filed a lawsuit last month in Eau Claire County Court against ThyssenKrupp Elevator Corp., alleging the company didn’t live up to its warranty and other parts of a contract to install walkways that transport customers and shopping carts.

The case is centered around injury claims that arose at the Schererville, Ind., store, but Menards also mentions in its lawsuit problems with walkways the company installed at Richfield, Minn., and Evendale, Ohio.

ThyssenKrupp responded to Menards’ claims this week in a court filing, stating that it had lived up to its contract and it is not responsible to the retailer for damages.

If there were problems with the equipment, ThyssenKrupp said it didn’t get timely notice from Menards. And the company is confident that problems with the equipment were due to misuse in a way ThyssenKrupp couldn’t foresee, according to the court filing written by attorney Matthew Cornetta of law firm Ruder Ware’s Eau Claire office.

Menards provided the court with a letter that its legal staff wrote in November 2014 to ThyssenKrupp about the disproportionate number of injury claims for the Schererville store’s moving walkway when compared to walkways at other stores. The court filing stated that injuries included occasions in which shopping carts became caught in the moving walkway and knocked down patrons.

A March 2015 letter from Menards stated it had gotten no response from ThyssenKrupp. The retailer told the company it would make its own changes to the walkways to prevent injuries and send them the bill.

In its lawsuit, Menards said the warranty on the ThyssenKrupp walkway at the Indiana store didn’t end until April 22, 2015.

Menards is suing the company for breach of contract, breaking Wisconsin product warranty laws and for failing to assume defense in two pending injury cases.

ThyssenKrupp did take over the defense of one of the personal injury claims that arose from the Schererville walkway, which Cornetta’s filing referred to as an “economically-driven, litigation avoidance, settlement payment.” However, the company said while it will defend claims against itself, it is not liable for claims lodged against Menards.

Menards wants ThyssenKrupp to pay for the cost of inspecting and repairing the walkways, injury claim settlements and defending pending claims.

ThyssenKrupp is asking the court to dismiss Menards’ claims and have the retailer pay its legal fees. The Georgia company also requested a jury trial on the issues presented in the case.

This article was first published by Leader-Telegram.

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