October 4, 2018

Contact:Eric W. Boyer, Esq.
Managing Partner
305.670.1101 Ext. 1023



Slip and Fall

Michael J. Wood
Michael J. Wood

MIAMI Quintairos, Prieto, Wood & Boyer, P.A., Fort Lauderdale Partner Michael J. Wood obtained a defense verdict for his client, the owner of a multi-unit apartment building, after a Miami Dade County jury deliberated for 60 minutes on October 4, 2018. Plaintiff filed his lawsuit on March 31, 2014. The case was previously tried by Mr. Wood and David Tarlow with a favorable result in August of 2016. Plaintiff filed a motion for a new trial granted by the trial court.  The defense appealed to the Third District Court of Appeals, which affirmed the trial court’s decision to grant a new trial.

The lawsuit involved an alleged slip and fall which occurred inside of Plaintiff’s apartment on August 26, 2012. Plaintiff claimed that his slip and fall was caused by water that leaked through a wall and a window in the living room every time it rained.  Plaintiff testified that he approached the window in his living room to look at a tropical storm outside. After looking out the window, Plaintiff turned to his left and slipped in a puddle of water. In an attempt to break his fall, Plaintiff extended his right arm through the closed living room window, resulting in a severe laceration to his right forearm.

Plaintiff’s theory at trial was “profits over people.” Plaintiff testified that he told the property manager that the apartment walls and window were leaking every time it rained for several consecutive months prior to the incident.  Plaintiff claimed that his complaints were ignored by the property owner and they continued to collect rent, instead of investigating the leak and repairing it. Alleged photographs of the apartment walls admitted in evidence appeared to depict mold, water stains, and peeling paint. Despite lacking any foundation to present the photographs to the jury, the trial court allowed them into evidence over defense objection. Plaintiff claimed that one of the photographs depicted the subject window and that there were water stains beneath the window, however, this photograph was a poor photocopy and the stain appeared to be a shadow on the wall.

The defense disputed liability based on Plaintiff’s inconsistent accounts to his medical providers about how the accident occurred.  Plaintiff initially told medical providers he cut his arm while trying to open the window when it broke. Two months after the incident and after Plaintiff had retained the Rubenstein Law Firm, Plaintiff told medical providers he slipped and fell because a wall in his apartment was leaking. In deposition, Plaintiff’s wife testified that on the date of incident all the windows were open in the apartment when it began to rain. As Plaintiff rushed to close the window, he slipped on rain water blown on to the floor and he broke the window.

In discovery, and on the stand, Plaintiff denied having any prior injuries to his right arm. Medical records supported the defense’s theory that Plaintiff’s version of the incident was not truthful, as Plaintiff failed to disclose a pre-incident injury to his right elbow, which was corroborated by post-incident medical records that documented a foreign body in Plaintiff’s right elbow and a right arm surgery that was caused by a motor vehicle accident which had never been disclosed.

Plaintiff received emergency medical treatment on the date of incident. Four days after the incident, Plaintiff underwent surgery, performed by a respected hand surgeon. The treating physician removed imbedded glass from the wound and surgically repaired the radial artery, sensory branch of the radial nerve and the brachioradialis.

Plaintiff’s medical expert testified at trial that Plaintiff suffered from radial nerve impairment and could not perform his job of repairing ship propellers, which required swinging a 20 pound hammer, as he did prior to the incident. Although Plaintiff did not lose his propeller repair job after the incident, Plaintiff’s vocational expert testified that because he could no longer swing the 20 pound hammer, Plaintiff could not work on the larger propellers, which prevented him from making more money per hour.  Plaintiff’s manager testified at trial that he had never seen him use a hammer in the five years since he has been managing the propeller repair shop and that Plaintiff only performed non-physical labor at the shop because of his physical limitations.

The defense’s expert hand surgeon testified that Plaintiff had no limitations in his right hand and he should return to work in his full pre-incident capacity in order to fully desensitize the nerve injury.

In closing arguments, the defense showed the jury that the functional testing data relied upon by Plaintiff’s experts to form their opinions that Plaintiff could no longer grip, lift and swing the 20 pound hammer, actually showed that Plaintiff met all physical abilities to perform his job, and his only limitation was on a finger on his left hand, which was not a claimed injury in the case.

Plaintiff’s past medical expenses were $55,000 and claimed future medical expenses were $5,000. Plaintiff’s future loss of earnings claim was $395,000, as he was expected to work another 30 years.  Plaintiff asked the jury for $482,000 for pain and suffering, mental anguish and loss of enjoyment of life. In total, Plaintiff requested that the jury award him $937,000. The jury deliberated for an hour, including lunch, and returned a defense verdict.

Plaintiff is now exposed to a judgment for fees and costs for rejecting the Proposal for Settlement served over two years ago for $95,000.

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Quintairos, Prieto, Wood & Boyer, P.A., is the largest minority and women owned law firm in the nation with more than 370 lawyers serving clients from 21 offices in the United States and abroad across a spectrum of industries in over 40 areas of practice. Our lawyers provide representation in litigation, business, real estate and governmental law.

Michael J. Wood is a partner and focuses his practice in the areas of automobile liability, premises liability, and first-party property and third-party insurance coverage claims. He received his law degree in 2007 from Nova Southeastern University Shepard Broad Law Center. He is admitted to practice in Florida.  Wood is a veteran sergeant of the U.S. Marine Corps.