Geoff Frankovich is described by family and friends as being a beloved member of the local medical community before his tragic death, and one who loved to make people happy and see them smile. They also described him as an amazing dad, husband, friend and mentor. In fact, you would be hard-pressed to find anyone that had anything but great things to say about Geoff. But, on a Sunday morning last October, Geoff stopped by the Walmart Shopping Center in Buford, Georgia, near Hamilton Mill Road, to run an errand before heading to the golf course.
What he did not know was that his life would tragically change upon exiting the store. As Geoff was walking to his car, he was struck by a vehicle driven by Mario De Paz Hurtarte, who was employed at Walmart at the time of the incident. The accident report to the crash suggested that Mr. Hurtarte was traveling at an excessive speed. Mario would later claim that he was unable to stop his car in time to avoid Geoff.
Following the accident, Geoff was rushed to the local hospital with catastrophic injuries. Ultimately, Geoff passed away as a result of his injuries. His death left a hole in the community and amongst his family and friends that will never be filled.
Initially, Parker Miller of Atlanta law firm Beasley Allen, along with Bryan Baer of the Baer Law Firm, filed suit against Mr. Hurtarte, the Walmart employee that struck Geoff. But in continuing their investigation, they noticed a disturbing trend. “It is absolutely incredible how many customers have been severely injured or killed in Walmart parking lots in these types of accidents,” said Mr. Miller.
Recently, after completing their investigation, the firms filed suit against Walmart, seeking to hold it responsible for yet another death on its premises. The lawsuit names Walmart and other defendants that owned, leased, managed, or were responsible for the shopping center’s property and failed to maintain the premises in a reasonably safe manner for pedestrians. It specifically points out the lack of adequate lighting and visibility for drivers and pedestrians as well as the lack of appropriate warnings and necessary traffic-calming features.
Further, the lawsuit alleges that Walmart failed to provide “competent hiring, training and procedures for and of their employees” including Mario, which contributed to the tragic events that led to Geoff’s untimely death. Adequate employee training by the defendant would have included how “to conduct themselves in a safe and orderly manner while on the premises so as not to create a danger to guests and patrons; and to operate their vehicles in a safe manner in the parking lot,” the lawsuit says.
Geoff’s family, through the lawsuit, explained that the defendants should have been on notice to take better precautions to prevent tragedies like this one, because of previous instances of severe injury and death of other pedestrians in their parking lots in Georgia and across the country.
“There have been so many people hurt and killed in their parking lots that it is hard to fathom such little action has been taken to avoid these outcomes,” says Miller. “At some point, you have to ask why so few – if any – measures have been put in place by Walmart to protect its customers.”
The lawsuit is filed in the State Court of Gwinnett County, Georgia, case number 20-C-02824-S1.
In addition to representing Ms. Frankovich, together with Bryan Baer of The Baer Law Firm, Beasley Allen Lawyer Parker Miller currently represents survivors and their families in a wide range of catastrophic injury and death cases, including in trucking, products liability, premises liability, and negligent security cases.