The Chicago law firm of Corboy & Demetrio has obtained a $6 million settlement on behalf of a 57-year-old elementary school teacher who tripped on a curled-up rubber mat at Jewel Food Store, rendering her an incomplete quadriplegic.

The plaintiffs, Edythe Patricia Burnette and William Burnette, were represented by Corboy & Demetrio partners Philip Harnett Corboy, Jr. and Edward G. Willer.

During discovery, Edythe Burnette testified that she did not see any portion of the curled-up mat before entering through the exterior door of Jewel Food Store on LaGrange Road in Frankfort, Illinois, because the view of its bottom edge was blocked by the steel plate of the door.  A store clerk corroborated this testimony.   Edythe further testified that while lying on the ground, she was able to see the edge of the mat curled up and that is what her foot got caught on.

“From the beginning, this was a crazy, complicated case.  Witnesses were all over the place as to what was – and what wasn’t – visible at the entrance to the Jewel store,” Corboy, Jr. said.   “Edythe Burnette and her husband Bill are very strong people, though, and waited patiently for the evidence to play out.  This settlement is intended to help them navigate the difficult years as they grow older with a debilitating medical condition,” Corboy Jr. added.

The action was based upon Jewel’s active conduct in placing an already curled up mat inside the vestibule when, in fact, it should have been taken out of service.

Willer said, “Liability was hotly contested. Jewel claimed it was Edythe’s sole conduct that caused her fall. Two immediate post-occurrence witnesses testified that the mat was pronounced and disfigured and was the reason plaintiff fell.  Two other post occurrence witnesses testified to the contrary, that there was nothing wrong with the mat.”

Issues of spontaneous curling of mats were litigated as well.  The plaintiffs argued and provided expert testimony to the proposition that mats do not curl or uncurl spontaneously, as the polymers in the rubber take time to curl/uncurl.

Case Info: Edythe Patricia Burnette and William Burnette v. Jewel Food Stores, Cook Co. Circuit Court, 13L967, settled on 3-8-2016.

About Corboy & Demetrio


Corboy & Demetrio is one of the nation’s premier law firms. The personal injury law firm represents individuals and their families in serious personal injury and wrongful death cases and is renowned for its achievements in the courtroom and for its contributions to the community. The Chicago law firm has acquired nearly $4 billion in settlements and verdicts and has attained almost 600 settlements and verdicts in excess of $1 million. To contact Philip Harnett Corboy, Jr., Edward G. Willer or another Chicago personal injury lawyer at the firm, call 312-346-3191 or toll free at 800-356-3191. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For more information about our law firm go to