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We’ve all seen it happen at least once. A grocery store parking lot on a windy day. Empty shopping carts that seem to have a mind of their own. BAM! Dented car door. It happens often, despite the best efforts of store management to dispatch employees outside to corral the wayward carts in a timely fashion.

Shopping carts are one thing, but when a full-sized metal dumpster is the rolling culprit, the damage inflicted can be more substantial. And that’s exactly what happened to the owner of a BMW in the parking lot of a Kash-n-Karry in Florida. She came out of the store to find the dumpster up against the side of her car, along with damage to the passenger-side door, the side panel and window. Even the frame of the vehicle was bent slightly from the force of the 450-pound dumpster hitting it.

The owner of the car filed a damage report with the store, and the report was subsequently sent along to their insurance carrier, which made payment on the claim.

The insurance company’s subrogation unit began an investigation that included a call to COMPUWEATHER. An analysis of the wind indicated that it was strong that day, with gusts going as high as 30 mph when the incident took place. But was that enough wind to cause a heavy dumpster to roll on its own? Further investigation was warranted.

Over the course of the previous several years, the insurance company had processed a number of damage claims stemming from wind-driven shopping carts. Those dates were provided to COMPUWEATHER, and the meteorologist analyzed the wind and weather on those days as well. The report showed that on all of the previous days when cart damage occurred, the wind speed was at least 27 mph. And on a few of the days, winds exceeded 40 miles per hour.

So it was deduced that a wind of at least 25-30 mph was required to cause the much-lighter-weight shopping carts to careen out of control. It didn’t seem likely that a heavy dumpster could be moved by winds of similar speeds.

With weather now ruled out as a possibility, the investigator began looking elsewhere. It was eventually determined that the dumpster had a faulty braking device on its wheels, and that the refuse company had made a pickup during the time that the BMW owner was parked in the lot. When the dumpster was emptied and placed back on the ground, it started rolling because of the faulty brake and ended up colliding with the car. The insurance company recovered what it had paid out from the refuse company.