New Ramp Paint Job Caused Florida Slip-and-Fall Injury, Plaintiff Says
Gregg Hollander | September 17, 2016 | Slip and Fall
A retail property owner in South Florida is accused of creating a dangerous condition on the property that resulted in the traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury of a woman in Palm Beach.
According to courtroom news coverage from Courtroom View Network, plaintiff in Sumner v. Lantana Palm Beach Retail, et al., alleges that she suffered severe injuries to her head and back in a slip-and-fall accident on an access ramp while working in Lake Worth at Lantana Square.
As her personal injury attorney explained during opening arguments, the 61-year-old plaintiff was someone who was bright, energetic, caring and productive. But after the accident, she was sent spiraling into illness and depression that has consumed her life. Once a real estate agent who actually worked on site at the property, her lawyer has likened the extent of her injury to that suffered by a shaken baby.
It’s been nearly a decade since the access ramp slip-and-fall and since then, plaintiff has endured five surgeries in the hopes of repairing the nerve damage in her spine. For this, she has racked up nearly $675,000 in uncovered medical expenses – and it’s estimated by expert witnesses she’ll incur at least $1 million more.
Now in her injury lawsuit, she is seeking a damage award that stretches, “into the millions,” her attorney says.
At the start of trial, jurors were told by plaintiffs that the new paint job on the access ramp made the surface, which was previously safe, into a slippery one. The property owners created a walking surface that was allegedly not only excessively slippery but also unreasonably dangerous. What’s more, they did not have to do this. The previous surface was safe, plaintiff’s attorney opined.
The shopping center had hired a paint company to paint the walkways, and this included paying extra for a sand-resistant finish. After plaintiff’s accident – and approximately two months after that paint job – that same company was called to come out again to add more sand to the surface. The only logical reason for this, plaintiff asserted, would have been to make the surface less slippery.
Defense attorneys assert that plaintiff traversed the surface “hundreds” of times prior to her fall and had never before complained about the surface being slick or of fearing it might be a hazard. They also asserted that slip resistance tests were conducted on the ramp prior to the fall and that they did not indicate that the surface was too slippery or that it fell short of acceptable industry standards. He also questioned the plaintiff’s account of the fall, considering she doesn’t remember much of it. Ignoring the fact that she suffered a traumatic brain injury, a defense attorney lambasted her for not being able to recall whether the surface was wet or exactly how she fell.
In any slip-and-fall accident lawsuit in Florida, there are going to be challenges. This is especially true since legislators changed the law in 2005 to establish a higher standard of proof. F.S. 768.0755 requires persons who slip and fall on a transitory foreign substance in a business establishment to prove the business had actual or constructive knowledge of a dangerous condition and failed to remedy it.
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Shopping Center Ramp’s Paint Job Caused Traumatic Brain Injury, Attorney Says as Multi-Million-Dollar Slip-and-Fall Trial Opens, Sept. 15, 2016, By Meghan Gourley, Courtroom View Network