July 13, 2012
Contact: Eric W. Boyer, Esq.
305-670-1101 Ext. 1023
Premises Liability Defense/Negligence
ORLANDO, Florida — Michele D. Morales, a partner in the Orlando office of Quintairos, Prieto, Wood & Boyer, P.A., obtained a directed verdict in favor of their client, a multi-national retail store. The plaintiff was a 32-year-old female who slipped on water and fell as she was walking toward the checkout registers. The accident was captured on store surveillance. Post-incident, the plaintiff complained of severe lower back pain. MRIs revealed disc herniations at the three lower lumbar levels. She underwent laser-assisted endoscopic microdiscectomies at three levels.
The plaintiff’s treating physician, a Board Certified orthopedic surgeon and MIT graduate, opined that the plaintiff’s back injuries were directly related to the accident, and that the surgery was necessary as a result of the fall. He also opined that the plaintiff would require a back fusion. The plaintiff claimed that she incurred medical bills in excess of $100,000.00 and that her future back fusion would cost approximately $110,000.00.
During the course of discovery, the plaintiff denied any pre-existing back injuries or treatment. However, an investigation by defense counsel revealed a long documented history of prior back problems. She was confronted with the records during cross-examination, and claimed that the records were incorrect. She also admitted during cross-examination a pattern of using narcotic pain medications prior to the subject incident which she likewise failed to disclose. However, all of the witnesses consistently testified that the liquid upon which Plaintiff slipped was clear, with no track marks, or footprints. Moreover, the store manager and two former employees testified as to the policies and procedures in place at the time of the accident.
At the close of Plaintiff’s case, defense counsel moved for directed verdict arguing that Plaintiff failed to present sufficient evidence for a jury to reasonably conclude negligence on the part of the store. Of note, the trial judge had previously denied defense counsel’s Motion for Summary Judgment reasoning that since the “old statute” was applicable, there were sufficient issues of fact that precluded summary judgment. However, at the close of the evidence, the trial judge determined that even under the “old statute,” the plaintiff failed to present sufficient evidence on negligence. During the third day of trial, the judge granted a directed verdict in favor of the defense.