Watch Out for Unsafe, Flimsy Furniture in Restaurants and Businesses

Many restaurants and businesses try to save money by purchasing cheap, lightweight furniture to use in their lobbies. You have probably seen some of this lightweight, plastic imitation wicker furniture on sale in the patio section of Wal-Mart, Target, Sam’s, etc. What the owners either don’t know or, more frighteningly, don’t care about is that the furniture is not intended for commercial use by the public because it can be very unsafe.

We recently represented a woman who went out for a nice family evening with her husband, daughter, and three grandchildren. While waiting in the lobby of a restaurant in Estero, Lee County, Florida, our client leaned against the arm of what she though was a sturdy, heavy, long sofa. The end of the sofa suddenly and unexpectedly tipped over and she crashed to the ground sustaining multiple serious fractures in her wrist and arm.

Apparently, the restaurant had pushed several separate pieces of modular, lightweight, imitation wicker furniture together and covered it with throw pillows to give it the appearance of being one long sofa. Our expert engineer concluded that it took less than ten pounds of pressure on the arm of the end chair to tip it over. While this type of furniture is not intended for commercial use by the public, our safety engineer concluded that a simple $5 bracket could have been used to connected the separate pieces of furniture to each other and prevent this accident.

In addition to ruining a special family occasion and scaring her family, our client was miserable for the next year as she underwent multiple surgeries to repair her serious injuries. We reached a confidential settlement with the restaurant, but we feel a responsibility to warn everyone, especially those living in Lee County, Florida (Fort Myers, Estero, Bonita Springs, Lehigh Acres and elsewhere).

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