California woman sues after slipping on banana peel

NEW YORK, March 1 Tue Mar 1, 2011 6:49pm EST

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NEW YORK, March 1 (Reuters Legal) - A banana peel, the torment of many a cartoon character, has allegedly become the real-life downfall of a woman in California. Ida Valentine, 58, is suing the 99 Cents Only store where she slipped on one last April.

She said that she suffered a herniated disk and tissue damage, spent $9,000 on medical bills and is seeking an unspecified amount in damages.

"She fell and landed on her backside," said Courtney Mikolaj of the Quirk Law Firm in Ventura, California, which is representing her.

Mikolaj said the 99 Cents Only store in Fontana, California, refused a proposed settlement of $44,000. Executives from the company, a deep-discount retailer with hundreds of stores in western states, were not immediately available for comment.

The image in popular culture of an unwary pedestrian tripping head over heels on a banana peel stems from the late 19th century, when bananas were a popular street food in American cities and the press portrayed them as a public nuisance.

In 1879, Harper's Weekly groused that "whosoever throws banana skins on the sidewalk does a great unkindness to the public, and is quite likely to be responsible for a broken limb."

(Reporting by Jeff Roberts of Reuters Legal, Editing by Greg McCune))

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