A Texas woman who slipped and fell at the Dairy Road McDonald's nearly three years ago was awarded $5.67 million last week for the injuries she suffered at the Kahului restaurant while visiting relatives on Maui.
A U.S. District Court jury awarded 59-year-old Beverly Munguia the money Thursday for her claims, including her medical expenses, lost wages and also pain, suffering and enjoyment of life, said her attorney, Michael Cruise, of Honolulu.
Grelyn Rosario, of Grelyn of Maui LLC, which owns the restaurant and other McDonald's restaurants on Maui, was out of town Tuesday, but he issued a written statement.
"I am disappointed with the verdict and believe it is excessive and not representative of the facts presented in the case. As always, I remain vigilant in my efforts to provide a safe restaurant for my employees and customers," Rosario said. "Rest assured, as an independent business owner, the safety and well-being of my employees and customers is a top priority."
Rosario said his sympathies go out to the plaintiff and her family.
"I never want anyone to get injured in my restaurant," he added.
Via e-mail, Cruise said: "The defendant did not follow its customer safety rules and the jury held it responsible for that. Mrs. Munguia and her family are pleased that the jury, after hearing all of the evidence, unanimously held the defendant responsible for not taking customer safety seriously."
Cruise said Munguia, a former Oahu resident now living in San Angelo, Texas, suffered from a burst compression fracture of a vertebrae and now suffers from chronic pain and a severe bend in her back.
"She can walk a few steps but is mostly dependent on a wheelchair," Cruise said.
Munguia has about $161,000 in medical expenses, and an estimated $2.1 million will be needed for future medical and life care needs, he said.
Several months after she was injured, Munguia tried to go back to work as a manager for Blue Cross, but her pain and limitations from her injury were too serious and doctors said she should not return.
Cruise said Munguia was at the restaurant Nov. 25, 2007, with her husband, her sister and a hanai granddaughter when she went to get a drink for her husband and fell.
He said Munguia's foot slipped out, and she landed hard on her buttocks, and the force of the impact caused the burst compression fracture of her vertebrae.
Cruise added that since the restaurant did not follow safety rules for an extended period of time, a greasy film formed on the floor. He said that on that morning, another "food contaminant" was spilled on top of the already dirty floor and not cleaned up.
* Melissa Tanji can be reached at email@example.com.