Dayton Daily News

Family sues after woman dies from alleged fall at Dollar Tree

- By Mark Gokavi Staff Writer

The family of a woman who they say died after falling while shopping at a Huber Heights Dollar Tree story has sued the discount chain.

A suit filed last month in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court claims that Diana L. Hatt, 61, of New Carlisle, went to shop at a Huber Heights Dollar Tree on Jan. 29, 2017 and fell because she couldn’t get a “defective” door to open.

“The front interior door stuck or would not open” the suit states. Hatt lost her balance, fell backward and down and struck her head, according to the suit.

Hatt suffered traumatic brain injury and died from her injuries on March 4, 2017, according to the lawsuit.

Hatt’s sister, Valerie Blankenshi­p, filed suit against Dollar Tree Stores, Inc. in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court, but the case recently was moved to federal court — Dayton’s U.S. District Court.

The lawsuit alleges wrongful death and other counts. Blankenshi­p claims the owners of the store at 6495 Brandt Pike “knew or should have known that one of the doors to the interior entrance of (the store) was defective and/or was not working correctly and/or was otherwise having problems that prevented customers from opening it safely in order to enter the store.”

The lawsuit claims Hatt suffered severe head injuries — subarachno­id hemorrhage, subdural hematoma and more — as a result of the fall.

The suit said the store had a duty of care for its patrons and failed by “negligentl­y failing to maintain the door in a reasonably safe condition; negligentl­y failing to warn her of the hidden/ latent danger of the door sticking and being unsafe; and other negligent acts and/ or omissions.”

In its answer filed in court, Dollar Tree Stores denies the allegation­s. The company stated in its reply that Hatt’s attorney claimed Hatt’s medical bills were more than $200,000. Dollar Tree Stores attorney Chris Cotter said the company declined to comment further.

The complaint does not indicate if store employees or medical personnel were notified of Hatt’s alleged fall. Blankenshi­p’s attorney did not return a message seeking comment.

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