Kmart ordered to pay $60,000 after six-year-old girl suffered horrifying eye injury in Aussie store
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WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT
An Australian family has been awarded AUD$60,000 (£33,400, USD$38,300) after a grim incident at Kmart saw her nearly lose her eyelid.
The six-year-old girl was shopping with her grandmother in Sydney's Chatswood store in January 2020 when the horrifying moment occurred.
The little girl was trying to reach an item of clothing but lost her balance.
Before her grandmother could do anything to stop her from falling, the youngster struck her face on an exposed hook on a rack and ripped open her eyelid.
"[She] wanted to get a pink T-shirt and she reached up to get it off the hook. Her grandma was right next to her looking at the sizes," the girl's mother told the NSW District Court, as per Nine News.
"It was so sudden. It all happened in less than a second. [She] wasn't running around or doing anything silly. No matter how careful her grandma was, she could not have prevented it."
She was rushed to a Sydney hospital with blood gushing from the wound where she then underwent extensive surgery to save her eyelid.
The six-year-old has been left with significant trauma and scarring after the incident, with the parents suing the store for negligence.
Luckily, the child's eye was uninjured but some of her muscles, nerves, and the lacrimal gland in her eye socket have been left damaged.
The child is now afraid of going to school and struggles to sleep alone due to the trauma.
"[She] was very afraid and scared of facing her school teachers and classmates because she thinks she looks horrible,” her mother told the NSW District Court.
The mother added her child used to go to bed with 'no stress' but, as per the Daily Telegraph, she has cried before bedtime every night and can't sleep without her parents by her side.
Lawyers for Kmart admitted that it had breached its duty of care to its customers but tried to blame the little girl's issues after the incident on an unrelated stomach problem.
The court disagreed, with Judge Robert Montgomery ordering the discount chain to pay $59,929.36 plus court costs to the family.
Now her parents are on a crusade to see Kmart stores made safer for children.
"I was angry because it was all the same. The hooks and the display are still there, there were no signs," she said, as per Nine News.
"If they don't make changes then [she] will not be the only one injured."
Kmart, however, claims they now use special caps to cover the apparel arm ends.
"Following the incident, Kmart rolled out rubber caps to be placed on top of all hang rail arms across our stores and these are regularly maintained to try and ensure no similar incidents occur again," a Kmart spokesperson said.
They added: "Kmart accepts the Court’s judgement in this case and extends our best wishes to [the little girl] and her family."