Woman sues for $8.3 million after plastic grocery bag tore

A woman is seeking nearly $8.3 million after she says a plastic bag at Albertsons in Central Point tore, causing a large bottle of wine to crash onto her right foot and ankle.

Jewel Strite's lawsuit against Albertsons and its Central Point store director is pending in Jackson County Circuit Court, with hearings over testimony and evidence continuing this month. A trial date hasn't been set.

Albertsons is arguing Strite is to blame for her injuries, saying she tore the bag when she lifted her groceries, failed to notice the tear and failed to properly handle her merchandise. 

Plastic bag manufacturer Hilex Poly Co. has been drawn into the lawsuit as a co-defendant after Albertsons also argued the Indiana-based company manufactured a defective plastic bag and misrepresented the load capacity of the bag. 

In her lawsuit, Strite said she was standing at the checkout counter in October 2012 while an employee bagged her groceries in plastic bags. Most of the items were double-bagged, but unbeknownst to Strite, the employee placed a 1.5 liter "magnum" bottle of Barefoot Chardonnay wine in a single plastic bag.

Strike did not know the bag wasn't strong enough to bear the weight of the bottle. When she took the bag out of her grocery cart, the weight of the bottle ripped the bag, causing the bottle to fall through. The bottle shattered when it hit her foot and ankle, the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit said Albertsons and its store director were at fault because the wine wasn't double-bagged, she wasn't offered an alternative way to carry the wine such as a paper bag or wine carrier and the checkout worker wasn't properly instructed on how to bag heavy items. 

Strite said in the lawsuit she suffered an incomplete fracture of an ankle bone, a cut and bruised ankle, and damage to the muscles, ligaments, tendons, nerves and other soft tissue of her leg, ankle and foot. She said she required multiple spinal cord stimulator surgeries to treat complex regional pain syndrome and also had left shoulder pain from using a crutch.

She is seeking noneconomic damages for pain and suffering of $4.2 million, plus nearly $4.1 million in economic damages from $74,048 in medical expenses plus expected future medical expenses, loss of earned income and other expenses. 

Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-776-4486 or valdous@mailtribune.com. Follow her at www.twitter.com/Vickie Aldous.

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