April 21, 2011
Contact: Eric W. Boyer, Esq.
305-670-1101 Ext. 123
Premises Liability Action / Negligence
ORLANDO, Fla. – Quintairos, Prieto, Wood & Boyer, P.A. (QPWB) Orlando office partners Jade M. Gummer and Michele D. Morales obtained a defense verdict on behalf of their client, a 400-unit apartment complex. The plaintiff, a 22-year-old University of Central Florida student/athlete, was a visitor of the apartment complex when he fell from a second floor balcony sustaining serious lower lumbar and neck injuries.
The plaintiffs alleged that the injuries were proximately caused by the defendant’s negligence in failing to maintain and inspect the stairwell, thus creating a dangerous condition. The plaintiff argued that the stairwells and railings had become unstable from the effects of rotting wood, present throughout the rundown, 30-year-old building; and that a large piece of railing was missing from the stairwell. As a result, the stairwell railing collapsed when the plaintiff leaned on it for support.
The plaintiff’s chiropractic orthopaedic assessed that his client had sustained permanent injuries requiring substantial future medical treatment and provided a disability rating of 8% total body. He further opined that the plaintiff was lucky to be alive – considering the severity of the fall.
Weighing on the lack of evidence to deduce the legal cause of plaintiff’s injuries, the defense argued there was no breach of duty to the plaintiff, since there was no evidence to support that the plaintiff’s injuries inferred from either, a missing piece of railing or rotting wood. And no evidence to corroborate plaintiff’s claim, that the defendant had notice of the missing piece of railing prior to this incident.
Having pled Florida’s Alcohol Statute as a complete bar to the plaintiff’s recovery, the defense further argued that the alleged dangerous conditions were open and obvious and that the plaintiff failed to use reasonable care in avoiding them because he was impaired by the consumption of alcohol.
In support of their theory, the defense proffered testimony from a well-known and respected toxicology expert from the University of Florida who opined that the plaintiff’s blood-alcohol level, at the time of the incident, was 0.264 – almost three times the legal limit.
The plaintiff asked the jury for approximately $110,000.00 in economic and non-economic damages. The jury deliberated for almost two hours and returned a complete verdict for the defense and that there was no negligence, on the part of the apartment complex, that was the legal cause of the plaintiff’s injuries.
Quintairos, Prieto, Wood & Boyer, P.A. is a full-service business law firm with more than 125 attorneys collaborating across major practice areas in eight offices located throughout Florida including Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Ft. Myers, Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville, and Tallahassee; and two offices in Kentucky located in Louisville and Lexington. QPWB provides comprehensive legal services to individuals and organizations of all sizes throughout the U.S. and the U.S. Virgin Islands.