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St. Helens man awarded $1.6 million in lawsuit against Safeway

An 85-year-old St. Helens man was awarded $1.627 million in Multnomah County Circuit Court following a lawsuit he filed against Safeway.

Christopher Armstrong-Stevenson filed a lawsuit against Safeway Inc. in March 2015 after he fell in the St. Helens grocery store on December 9, 2014. Armstrong-Stevenson was walking in the deli area of the grocery store when he slipped on a puddle of laundry detergent, causing him to fall and injure his leg, court documents show.

On Friday, a 12-member jury awarded Armstrong-Stevenson more than $102,000 in economic damages and $525,000 in noneconomic damages after concluding Safeway had been negligent. The jury also awarded punitive damages to Armstrong-Stevenson in the amount of $1 million.

During the trial, Safeway’s attorney Richard Lee argued Safeway store manager Aaron Siegel was aware of the laundry detergent spill caused by another customer, and followed standard protocol by attempting to have an employee clean it up in a timely manner.

Armstrong-Stevenson and his attorneys, Gregory Kafoury and Mark McDougal, initially sued for $619,000 in March 2015, arguing that the man’s injuries severely affected his quality of life.

As reported in the Oregonian newspaper, integral to Kafoury and McDougal’s case was the argument Safeway had attempted to cover up the incident by destroying video evidence and manipulating records to improve its defense.

In May 2016, the lawyers amended the complaint to add a clause stating that “the conduct of defendant was wanton and intentional, and defendant should be assessed punitive damages in the amount of $1,000,000 in order to deter defendant and others similarly situated from this and similar kinds of conduct in the future.”

Safeway is owned by AB Acquisition LLC.