Complete Defense Verdict - Slip and Fall - Miami-Dade County

Fort Lauderdale West Partner Sanaz Alempour and Miami Partner David Herrero recently obtained a complete defense verdict in a premises liability case, following a four-day trial before Judge William Thomas in Miami-Dade County.

The case involved a claim for bodily injuries relating to an alleged trip and fall that occurred after Plaintiff tripped and fell on a plastic tarp located inside her employers’ warehouse during an ongoing construction project. The general contractor Defendant was hired by the property owner several months before the fall to perform certain construction services on the property, centered around a code violation relating to an open staircase located inside the warehouse. The property consisted of office space located on the first and second floors and warehouse space, where the only bathroom was located. Plaintiff claimed the Defendant was negligent in maintaining the construction area in a reasonably safe condition with respect to the condition of the plastic tarp. The Plaintiff presented testimony from her former employer/property owner who testified that prior to demolishing the existing stairs, the Defendant placed plastic tarps over the owner’s property stored inside the warehouse. 

Prior to trial, the defense obtained partial summary judgment on: i) the condition of the dangerous condition (plastic tarp) being open and obvious; ii) on Plaintiff's knowledge as to the condition of the plastic tarp being equal to and/or superior to that of the Defendant; and iii) dispensing with Defendant's alleged duty to warn Plaintiff as to the condition of the plastic tarp.  Plaintiff proceeded under a theory of premises liability which centered on the question as to whether the Defendant contractor had possession or control over the warehouse at the time of her alleged fall.  The Defendant denied placing the plastic tarp and denied performing work inside the warehouse for at least thirty days before the fall. 

Plaintiff immediately reported the fall to her employer, sought medical treatment with her primary care physician within twenty-four hours, and received care and treatment through Worker Compensation, resulting in a lien of approximately $100,000.  Plaintiff ultimately underwent a rotator cuff repair and subacromial decompression surgery on her right shoulder four months after her fall that she claimed caused her to develop carpel tunnel syndrome, that required surgical intervention six months later. 

Plaintiff had no real pre-existing issues and asked the jury for $1,500,000.  After deliberating for just over an hour, the jury returned a verdict of no liability. The Defendant will now pursue recovery of its attorney's fees and costs under two expired proposals for settlement, one of which dating back over three years.  A special thanks to associate, Courtney Kaiser, for all her hard work on this case, and to Marybeth Stone-Kassner and Toni Ortiz for all their work behind the scenes.

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