Menards sues Georgia firm over injury claims related to Indiana stores’ moving walkways

Eau Claire, Wis.-based Menards is suing a Georgia company for personal injury claims tied to moving walkways installed in some of the home improvement chain’s stores.

Menards filed the lawsuit last week in Eau Claire County Court, alleging that ThyssenKrupp Elevator Corp. didn’t live up to its warranty and other parts of a contract to install the walkways intended to transport people and carts.

“The moving walkways installed in the Schererville, IN store appears to have a very disproportionate number of injury claims compared to the other moving walkways that are in use throughout our company,” James Anderson, Menards’ corporate legal manager, wrote to ThyssenKrupp in a November 2014 letter.

In a contract Menards provided to the court, ThyssenKrupp had agreed to warranty its work for two years after getting final payment for the jobs. That included making repairs within a week of being notified of a problem with the walkways.

Menards paid ThyssenKrupp for the completed work on April 22, 2013, according to the court filing.

Following completion of the walkways at the Indiana store, multiple customers experienced injuries and filed claims against Menards. The court filing stated that injuries included occasions in which shopping carts became caught in the moving walkway and knocked down patrons.

The claims against Menards stem from injuries that occurred before the warranty for the Schererville store’s walkway ended on April 22, 2015, according to the lawsuit.

In Anderson’s November 2014 letter, Menards tells ThyssenKrupp it wanted inspections of all its walkways installed in the stores, changes to prevent injuries and for the elevator company to be responsible for defending injury claims.

A follow-up letter from Anderson to ThyssenKrupp on March 26, 2015, stated that Menards had gotten no response to its prior correspondence and would pursue its own changes to the walkways to prevent injuries and would bill the costs to the company. Menards also asserted that fixing the walkways itself would not void the contract’s warranty.

When the lawsuit was filed last week, Menards said it had settled two injury claims but two others were still pending. The filing acknowledged that ThyssenKrupp did pay a settlement for one of the claims that Menards also settled.

Menards also said a third-party administrator for ThyssenKrupp’s insurer denied Menards’ request for defense in August 2015 for an injury claim that happened while the walkway was under warranty.

There were injury claims tied to walkways ThyssenKrupp installed at stores in Richfield, Minn., and Evendale, Ohio, Menards stated but did not include specifics on those in the lawsuit against ThyssenKrupp.

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.

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

When asked for comment on the lawsuit, ThyssenKrupp spokesman Dennis Van Milligen replied that the company’s policy is to not comment on pending litigation.

The elevator company has 20 days to respond to the Menards lawsuit since it was filed April 3.

This article was first published by The Leader-Telegram.

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