Articles Posted in Slip and Fall

Earlier this month, a jury awarded a Georgia doctor $7 million in a premises liability lawsuit brought against the hospital where the doctor sustained a career-ending head injury after falling to the ground after slipping off a rolling stool. According to one local news report covering the case, the doctor alleged that the hospital provided an unsafe rolling stool in the operating room where the fall occurred.

Operating RoomThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was a doctor who had performed thousands of surgeries at the defendant hospital. On the day of the accident, the plaintiff had just finished with a surgery and sat down to complete the post-op paperwork. However, as he sat on the rolling stool provided by the hospital, the stool shot out from under him, causing him to fall to the floor.

The doctor hit his head on the floor but initially seemed fine. It was not until hours later that he started to become nauseous and then started experiencing double vision. Later, he began to have seizures. He was hospitalized for several days and eventually tried to return to work. However, since he was routinely suffering from seizures, he had to close down his practice. The doctor was later diagnosed with trauma-induced epilepsy and continues to suffer from cognitive and memory problems, migraine headaches, and seizures.

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Earlier this month, a federal court of appeals issued a written opinion in a premises liability case brought by a woman who was seriously injured when a glass shower door at the defendant’s hotel shattered, covering her naked body in shards of glass. In the case, the court reversed a lower court’s decision that denied the plaintiff the opportunity to seek punitive damages from the hotel chain. The court held that the issues that needed to be resolved in order to determine whether punitive damages were appropriate should have been determined by the jury, rather than the trial judge.

Shower HeadThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff and her sister were staying at one of the defendant’s hotels. The plaintiff was exiting the shower when the glass shower door exploded, causing her serious injuries. After the accident, a hotel employee came to the room and told the sisters that several rooms had this problem, and it was caused by the shower door coming off its runners. The employee explained that the room was on a “do not sell” list, and the sister should check and see if her shower door had the same problem. The sister checked, and indeed, her shower door was also off its runner.

The plaintiff filed a premises liability lawsuit against the hotel chain, seeking compensatory and punitive damages. Evidence was presented showing that the hotel knew about the problems with the doors, and had at one point taken the rooms off the list of available rooms. However, for an unknown reason the sisters’ hotel rooms ended up back on the available room list. There was also evidence presented that the door in the plaintiff’s room had previously shattered and been replaced.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in Georgia issued a written opinion in a wrongful death case brought by the parents of a boy who died while in the defendant teacher’s classroom. In the case, Barnett v. Atlanta Independent School System, the court held that a teacher’s decision on how to supervise and control students is a discretionary action that is entitled to government immunity. As a result of the ruling, the boy’s parents will not be able to seek compensation for the loss of their son.

ClassroomA Student Falls While the Teacher Is Out of the Classroom

Antoine Williams was a seventh-grade student in the defendant’s American Literature class. One afternoon, Williams’ teacher stepped out of the room for a period of about 30 minutes. Before she left, she asked a neighboring teacher to “listen in” on her class to make sure the students were okay. During that time, Williams and another boy were horse-playing when Williams fell to the ground, fracturing his collarbone. When Williams’ teacher returned, Williams was lying on the ground unconscious. The teacher called 911, and Williams was taken to the hospital. Sadly, Williams died from a loss of blood caused by the fractured collarbone.

The school’s principal called the teacher into his office to discuss what had occurred. During the initial discussion, the teacher lied, claiming that she was in the classroom at the time of Williams’ fall. The principal determined this was not the case and confronted the teacher about her misrepresentation. She then offered a series of other reasons as to why she was not present. During a pre-trial deposition, the teacher changed her story yet again, this time claiming that she was using the restroom. It was verified, however, that she did ask the neighboring teacher to listen in on her class.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court issued a written opinion in a premises liability case brought by a woman whom had slipped and fallen on some icy steps outside a restaurant. In the case, Lowrey v. LMPS & LMPJ, the court took the opportunity to clarify each party’s burden when a defendant seeks summary judgment in a premises liability case. Ultimately, finding that the plaintiff presented insufficient evidence of her claim, the court determined that the defendant was entitled to summary judgment.

Slick StepsThe Facts of the Case

Lowrey was leaving Woody’s Diner, an establishment owned and operated by the defendant, when she slipped and fell on a set of icy stairs. Lowrey filed a premises liability case against the owners of the restaurant, claiming that they knew or should have known about the icy steps but failed to do anything to remedy the danger or warn patrons of the slippery condition.

Before trial, the defendant asked the court to dismiss the case against it, arguing that Lowrey did not provide any evidence suggesting that the defendant knew the dangerous condition existed. The trial judge agreed and dismissed the case.

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Earlier this month, the highest court in Illinois issued a written opinion in a premises liability case requiring the court to interpret a statute that on its face grants immunity to property owners who are negligent in the removal of snow or ice on their land. In the case, Murphy-Hylton v. Lieberman Management Services, the court determined that the defendant apartment complex was not entitled to immunity because the plaintiffs did not allege negligence in the removal of the condition but instead negligence in otherwise maintaining the property.

Snowy PathThe nuance in the court’s opinion is instructive to would-be personal injury plaintiffs in Maryland because the opinion shows how closely courts scrutinize legal arguments and how a dedicated advocate can greatly increase a plaintiff’s chance of success.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff lived in an apartment complex owned by the defendants in Carol Stream, Illinois. In February, 2011, a snow storm dropped over 20 inches of snow in Carol Stream. The defendant arranged for the snow and ice to be cleared from the premises, but 11 days after the storm, the plaintiff slipped and fell on a patch of ice behind her building on her way to the parking lot.

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Earlier this month, an elderly woman recovered just over $1.3 million after a jury found in her favor in a premises liability case involving a large grocery store chain. According to one industry news source reporting on the case, the accident took place back in 2012, when another customer inadvertently struck the woman with an electric grocery cart.

Grocery StoreEvidently, the elderly plaintiff was shopping at a Giant Eagle grocery store when she was hit by another patron in an electric cart, after the patron had lost control of the cart. The collision tossed the woman nearly four feet into a nearby shelf. The force of the collision seriously injured the woman’s back and neck. She filed a premises liability lawsuit against the grocery store chain.

During the trial, the woman’s attorney submitted evidence to the jury of 119 other accidents occurring at Giant Eagle stores across the country. This enabled the attorney to argue not only that the grocery store was negligent in failing to provide adequate instructions to the customers using the carts but also that it had prior knowledge of the potential dangers involved in allowing uninformed customers to use the carts.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in Michigan decided an interesting case involving the type of evidence that is sufficient to survive a summary judgment challenge by the defense in a slip-and-fall case arising from an allegedly uneven sidewalk. In the case, Bernardoni v. City of Saginaw, the court held that photos taken 30 days after the woman’s injuries were insufficient to prove the dangerous condition of the sidewalk on the day of her injury.

Sidewalk

The Facts of the Case

Ms. Bernardoni was walking on the sidewalk in Saginaw, Michigan when she tripped and fell. Upon inspecting the sidewalk when she got up, she noticed that there was a 2.5-inch differential in the height between two adjacent slabs on concrete, creating the “lip” on which she had tripped. She filed a premises liability lawsuit against the local government, seeking monetary compensation.

In response, the government asked the court to dismiss the case based on the immunity it possesses under state law. Specifically, the government pointed to the state statute that requires anyone suing based on a dangerous sidewalk to prove that the government knew of the dangerous condition for at least 30 days prior to the accident.

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Earlier this month, a West Virginia court issued a written opinion in a premises liability case that arose when the plaintiff was injured after the handrail he leaned against broke, causing the man to fall down a hill. The decision in the case, Wheeling Park Commission v. Dattoli, reversed a lower court’s judgment in favor of the plaintiff and held that the lower court should have granted the defendant’s motion for a directed verdict.

Wooden HandrailThe Facts of the Case

The Dattolis were attending an event at Wheeling Park. Due to the popularity of the event, there was no seating available, and the Dattolis opted to stand. Mr. Dattoli quickly inspected a nearby handrail before leaning up against it, but as he did, the handrail snapped. Mr. Dattoli fell past the rail and down a hill, injuring his shoulder as a result. He filed a negligence lawsuit against the park, claiming that the park was responsible for his injuries because it was the park’s duty to keep safe premises, including the handrail.

At trial, the Dattolis called the Director of Operations for the park, who testified that the fence was installed between 1970 and 1990, that there were no maintenance records for the fence, that the fence had a life expectancy, and that the park’s management was in a better place to ensure that the handrail was in good condition than was a guest. The Park called no witnesses but asked the court to enter a directed verdict in its favor, arguing that the Dattolis failed to show evidence that the Park was negligent.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in Maine issued a written opinion in a case filed by a man against a local government, alleging negligence for failing to maintain a safe property near the city hall. In the case, Deschenes v. City of Sanford, the court ultimately dismissed the case because the plaintiff failed to comply with the state’s Tort Claims Act. Specifically, the plaintiff failed to provide written notice to the city within 180 days of his injury.

steps-1566937The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff, Deschenes, was injured when he slipped and fell down the steps at the city hall after he went to obtain a copy of his daughter’s birth certificate. According to Deschenes, he tripped on a piece of tread that was uneven, fell to the bottom of the stairs, and then slid into some nearby glass doors.

After his injury, he contacted the nearest city employee, who provided some basic first-aid until emergency medical responders arrived. Once they arrived, Deschenes was transported to the hospital. It was determined that he has suffered some “abrasions.”

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Whenever a landowner invites others onto their land, the landowner assumes a duty of care to that person. Most commonly, this duty requires that the landowner take reasonable precautions to ensure that there are no dangerous conditions on their property that could result in injury to their guest. However, as is the case with most laws, there are exceptions when a landowner may be absolved from responsibility when someone injures themselves on the landowner’s property.

fireworks-227383_960_720The Recreational Use Statute in Maryland

Maryland, like many other states, wants to encourage landowners to open their land for the general public to use and enjoy. In order to encourage this, the law grants landowners immunity from some lawsuits that may arise when someone comes onto their land and hurts themselves.

Generally speaking, the land must be open for free use by any member of the general public in order for the recreational use statute to apply. If it does not apply, the landowner may be held liable for injuries that occur on his or her land, even if the landowner was not aware of the condition himself.

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