In the busy lead up to Christmas, a man shopping at a large retail store tripped and fell over a juicer box displayed in the aisle.  The fall injured his hip and left him with a fractured femur.

The retailer was protected from a personal injury claim, due to ACC legislation, but was prosecuted for a breach of health and safety legislation.

The charge laid was for failing to take all practicable steps to ensure a workplace hazard would not harm shoppers.  The display goods stacked in the aisle were identified as a hazard which may cause injury.

The retailer pleaded guilty immediately, expressing remorse.  The retailer explained that during the Christmas period, products were stacked beside aisles so that shoppers could find what they wanted without waiting for staff members to access items from the store room.

While the retailer accepted that the boxes in the aisle caused the man to fall, it pointed out that the aisles were wide and there was enough space for two trolleys to pass despite products being displayed in the aisle.

The District Court imposed a fine of $75,000 and further reparation of $4,000 to the man who had tripped.  This was in addition to an earlier $5,000 payment made by the retailer.

On appeal, the High Court reassessed the appropriate fine and concluded the District Court’s figures were not clearly excessive or inappropriate.  The fine was reduced, however, because the retailer and the prosecuting Ministry agreed to discounts for mitigating factors and the early guilty plea. The total fine imposed was therefore $42,100.