CHARLESTON -- A Kanawha County woman is suing Young's Department Store after she claims she tripped and fell over the owner's dog that was blocking the front door of the business.

On April 8, Freda Slater was attempting to enter the defendant's department store when she was blocked by a large dog owned by the defendant's owner and president, James Oatridge, according to a complaint filed Sept. 7 in Kanawha Circuit Court.

Slater claims it was unclear to her why Oatridge would kennel his dog at the department store, but it is "a practice that apparently Oatridge has engaged in for several years."

Oatridge's kenneling of the dog created unsafe premises and as Slater attempted to enter the defendant's store, she tripped and fell over the dog and landed hard on the floor, injuring her shoulder, arm, ribs, hip and head, according to the suit.

Slater claims the fall was captured on the defendant's security video camera, but she has since learned the video has been erased.

Subsequent to her fall, Slater learned that the dog was to have been taken out of the store for a walk to relieve itself by a store employee, however, the employee forgot to walk the dog timely and allowed it to "roost unencumbered in from of the store's main (and only business) entrance," according to the suit.

Slater claims the employee apologized for his failure to walk the dog and for her injuries, and other employees offered to call an ambulance, but she rejected the ambulance and instead, was later assisted by her son and taken to a local medical facility for treatment.

The defendant's failure to provide reasonably safe premises for Slater, caused her emotional distress, according to the suit.

Slater is seeking compensatory damages with pre- and post-judgment interest. She is being represented by Todd W. Reed.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Tod J. Kaufman.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 11-C-1557

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