Notice of hazard the issue in slip and fall at center – $11,000 Verdict
By Virginia Lawyers Weekly
Published: August 30, 2010
SETTLEMENTS AND VERDICTS IN ALL CASES DEPEND ON VARIOUS FACTORS AND CIRCUMSTANCES WHICH ARE UNIQUE TO EACH CASE. THEREFORE, PAST RESULTS IN CASES ARE NOT A GUARANTEE OR PREDICTION OF SIMILAR RESULTS IN FUTURE CASES WHICH THE ALLEN LAW FIRM AND ITS LAWYERS MAY UNDERTAKE.
Plaintiff’s attorney: David M. Williams Jr. – Fredericksburg, Virginia
Verdict Amount: $11,000
A Spotsylvania County jury returned a plaintiff’s verdict in a hotly contested slip-and-fall case against a local mall.
The slip and fall took place on Nov. 19, 2006, in the Spotsylvania Mall. The plaintiff, a 17-year-old female, slipped as a result of a clear, wet, sticky substance on the common area floor between two fast food restaurants. Mall maintenance measured the spill at 1-inch by 1-inch. The plaintiff testified that the spill was much larger but it was not readily observable since it was clear on a light-colored floor.
The defendant argued that it had no notice of the hazard. Plaintiff’s case was based upon constructive notice, and two key pieces of evidence were introduced to establish that the defendant should have known about the hazard on the floor.
First, portions of this liquid spill were so sticky that a rag used in an attempt to clean it up stuck to the floor. The plaintiff argued that this was circumstantial evidence that the spill had been there for quite some time.
Second, the plaintiff testified that the spill was leading toward a mall trashcan that was overflowing with trash. The plaintiff argued that this was evidence that the defendant’s employees had not patrolled or cleaned this area in some time.
The defense claimed that there were no trashcans in the area, as they had been removed several years prior to the fall. The mall introduced a scene photo, which it claimed was taken 11 days prior to this fall. However, both the plaintiff and her father, who arrived at the scene shortly after his daughter fell, testified that the photo did not show the exact area where the plaintiff fell. Both confirmed the presence of the overflowing trashcan.
Damages were not disputed. The plaintiff sustained non-displaced fractures of her second and third metatarsals as well as a hip contusion. Medical treatment consisted of an emergency room visit, a visit to her family doctor, two visits with an orthopedic doctor and nine physical therapy visits to address the hip contusion. Treatment lasted less than two months, and the plaintiff’s injuries resolved. Portions of the defense medical exam records review were read into evidence.
The jury deliberated for a little over an hour before returning their verdict for the plaintiff.
Type of action: Personal injury – slip and fall
Injuries alleged: Non-displaced fractures of second and third metatarsals of the left foot; left hip contusion
Name of case: Jennifer Longerbeam v. Spotsylvania Mall Company
Court: Spotsylvania County Circuit Court
Case no.: CL08-1116
Tried before: Jury
Name of judge: F. Ward Harkrader
Special damages: $4,257.70
Date: June 24, 2010
Highest offer: $1,000
Insurance carrier: Self-insured