Tampa Partner, Carlos Morales and Orlando Partner, Michele Morales (CSK’s Brother and Sister trial team) obtained a complete defense verdict in a 4 day premises liability trial in Polk County.
Plaintiff slipped and fell on a trail of water extending 100-200 feet through the front of the store and claimed injuries primarily to his low back. Surveillance video of the incident showed that Defendant’s maintenance employees crossed the area of the incident 2.5 minutes before the accident and there was no apparent source of the water. According to the testimony of the defendant’s store manager, there should have been an employee stationed near the front checkout watching for hazards but that they had gone to lunch at the time of the accident, and Plaintiff’s counsel argued that this was a dereliction of duty. Plaintiff presented to the ER the same day with complaints of back pain, that remained fairly consistent throughout his treatment and an MRI shortly after the accident identified a fairly significant extruded disc herniation for which Plaintiff ultimately underwent surgery.
On the defense, Michele and Carlos presented that although there was a long trail of water, the path of the clean-up shown in the video precisely matched the path of another customer’s cart who crossed the location of the accident 30 seconds before Plaintiff’s fall. Further, all witnesses agreed that the water was free from dirt, footprints or track marks despite being in a high-traffic area, supporting that it could not have been present for long. The defense also presented that although Plaintiff complained of back pain, his complaints over time, and the objective tests, were inconsistent with a symptomatic disc herniation.
Plaintiff asked the jury to award $1.7M. The jury deliberated for 40 minutes (inclusive of lunch) before returning a complete defense verdict.
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