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Suit blames grocery in yogurt mishap


What began as a grocery store worker's snack could become one expensive cup of frozen yogurt.

In a $250,000 suit filed last week in Carroll Circuit Court, a Sykesville woman claims that a puddle of the melted remains of the cold dessert caused her to slip, fall and injure her spine during a 1989 shopping trip at the Martin's Food store in Eldersburg's Freedom Village Shopping Center.

Barbara A. Vetters, of Bethway Drive in Sykesville, was "seriously, painfully and permanently injured" in her spine, neck and head, the suit says. She also continues to suffer -- nearly three years after her fall -- "severe and permanent shock to her nerves and nervous system."

Neither Vetters nor her attorneys, Herbert J. Arnold and Gerald F. Gay of Baltimore, could be reached for comment on the suit.

A senior officer for Giant Food Store Inc. -- the Carlisle, Pa.-based parent company of Martin's -- said the suit is typical of ones filed against grocery stores "every day." He declined to give his name or to comment further.

Martin's parent company is unrelated to Giant Food Inc. of Landover, the region's top grocery store chain.

Vetters was shopping in the Liberty Road grocery store on May 15, 1989, the suit says. As she pushed her cart down the aisle containing pet food and household paper goods that evening, she noticed the stocker eating a dish of frozen yogurt.

While the stocker was eating, the suit says, the shelves were being filled with merchandise. A frozen yogurt machine was at the end of the aisle. As Vetters passed it, she slipped on "an accumulation of yogurt on the floor . . . causing her to fall . . . with great force and violence," the suit said.

The suit contends that the stocker and other Martin's employees should have cleaned up the spilled yogurt, and that by not warning Vetters or other customers about the slippery floor, they were "reckless, careless and negligent."

It is that negligence that Vetters says caused her to suffer serious injuries.

The injuries -- unspecified in the suit -- caused "great physical pain and mental anguish." She was confined to her home, the suit says, and had to undergo extensive medical treatment. During that time, she was unable to enjoy her hobbies, and she was unable to work.

The suit says she expects to be unable to work for some time to come, and that she will continue to foot the bill "for the services of physicians, hospitals and other medical personnel."

It was unclear yesterday why the suit was filed nearly three years after the accident.

Giant Food Stores Inc. operates two Martin's Food locations in Carroll -- the other is in the 140 Village Shopping Center in Westminster -- and a store in Frederick.

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