MASON CITY | A disabled Garner man lost a lawsuit against Mills Fleet Farm at trial Friday.
The civil lawsuit filed in Cerro Gordo County District Court, claimed Shane Zahn, 54, had to walk on his hands and knees to reach his vehicle after leaving the store.
Zahn, an amputee, sued Mills Fleet Farm in Mason City store after he says he was denied use of an electric wheelchair in April 2017. A Facebook post and video of him leaving the store went viral.
The lawsuit was filed in Nov. 2017.
Zahn sought an "amount sufficient to compensate him for his injuries,” not specifying a specific amount of money.
The lawsuit went to trial Wednesday. Closing arguments were made Friday and jury of eight found in favor of Mills Fleet Farm after only 15 minutes of deliberation.
Zahn, whose right leg is amputated below the knee, along with most of his left foot, used the store's electric wheelchair for shopping in the store, as well as transport to and from his vehicle, according to the lawsuit.
The person who was with Zahn or a store employee would bring the wheelchair to the parking lot and back to the store. He claimed he was denied use of the wheelchair that day.
Zahn posted a Facebook video of himself that day leaving the store on his knees. The video has been viewed more than 31. 1 million times. His Facebook post with the video has been shared by more than 360,000 people over two years.
Zahn said he returned the items he purchased that day.
Some social media users pointed out signs are posted outside the store, stating electric wheelchairs cannot be taken outside.
Exhibits shown in court included pictures of the electric wheelchairs and the signs posted on them.
“USE INDOORS ON LEVEL SURFACE ONLY,” a sticker on the electric wheelchair said. “DO NOT REMOVE FROM STORE.”
Mills Fleet Farm CEO Wayne Sales issued an apology to Zahn in a public statement in April 2017.
"While use of carts in the parking lot with the uneven terrain can pose a hazard, we feel that in this instance our team member made the wrong decision," Sales said in the statement. "We apologize to the customer and to everyone who may be affected."
"We should have gone the extra mile and helped the customer use the cart to return to his vehicle after shopping," he said, noting the company wanted to "make things right" for Zahn.
Exhibits from Shane Zahn vs. Mills Fleet Farm trial
Exhibit N Mart Cart Inventory for Mason City.pdf
Exhibit O Fleet Farm Standard Operating Procedures for Mart Carts.pdf
Exhibit P Mart Cart Owners Manual.pdf
Exhibit U Deposition Exhibit 7.pdf
Exhibit V Duffy Transcript.pdf