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Split Appeals Panel Flushes Toilet Paper Payout

A restaurant worker who claimed an industrial-strength roll of toilet tissue necessitated her surgery when it fell won’t be enjoying the roll of long green awarded her by a jury. This after a divided appeals panel ruled that operators of the East St. Louis truck stop where she was injured could not have foreseen the circumstances that led to her lawsuit. The majority in the 4th District Appellate Court rejected Reona Pearson’s claim under the legal principle of rea ipsa loquitor, saying that just because the accident occurred does not means that the company and its agents were negligent.

The waitress’s need for surgery after the roll hit her on the head as she entered the stall supported her success in district court, which awarded her more than half-a-million dollars in 2018. Engineers hired by Pearson and by Pilot Travel Centers, the station’s operator, went to considerable length at trial to determine that a person unknown had placed the two-pound roll on top of the door, likely as a practical joke, before she entered the washroom from the station’s restaurant. In dissent, Judge Milton Wharton said his peers misread the Illinos Supreme Court’s ruling in Marshall v. Burger King, which bases liability on the ‘general character’ of such events.