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Costco can't move "I slipped on a slurpee" lawsuit

By Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A 74-year-old woman who said she was injured after falling in a Costco store in Florida beat back the retailer's effort to move the case to that state because it was too much trouble to defend itself in New York.

Theresa Danza sued Costco in her hometown of Brooklyn, New York, claiming she was hospitalized for spinal and shoulder trauma and needed months of treatment by a chiropractor after a tumble in a Costco in North Miami, Florida, on January 24, 2009.

"I didn't know what hit me," she said. "I just went flying. I went up in the air and down I went. It seems I slipped on a slurpee that was all over the floor."

Costco sought to move her case to Florida. It said it would be prejudiced if the case stayed in New York, and cited the cost of locating and interviewing witnesses.

Not so, New York State Supreme Court Justice Arthur Schack said in a decision on Wednesday.

Schack said it would be more inconvenient for Danza to fly her witnesses to Florida than for Costco to fly its employee witnesses to New York.

He also said Issaquah, Washington-based Costco Wholesale Corp is hardly cash-starved, with profit of $1.3 billion on revenue of $77.95 billion in its last fiscal year.

"The court, in balancing the interests of plaintiff Danza against financial 'goliath' defendant Costco, holds that it would not be in the interest of substantial justice to try this action in Florida instead of New York," Shack wrote.

A Costco spokeswoman declined to comment, citing a company policy not to discuss litigation.

Pursuing the case at home could avert more pain for Danza.

"I do not intend to be traveling to Florida in winter anymore as traveling is too painful and stressful for me," she said in court papers quoted by Schack.

The case is Danza v. Costco Wholesale Corp, New York State Supreme Court, Kings County, No. 31512/2010.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel)

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