By: Diana Adjadj, Esq.
March 10, 2022
Case Result Shopping center fall on stopped escalator results in panda eyes and a traumatic brain injury, settlement of $280,000 USD.
|Injury/Claim||Cause of Action||Initial Defense Offer||Settlement|
· Escalator Falls (Premise Liability / Negligence)
· Shopping Center Falls (Premise Liability / Negligence)
(Ten Thousand Dollars)
(Two Hundred Eighty Thousand Dollars)
Case Result Shopping Center Fall, after four years of litigation our offices are proud to announce the settlement of an escalator fall case for $280,000 (Two Hundred Eighty Thousand Dollars).
Escalator Falls: our client Jane Doe, 75 years-old at the time was climbing up a non-operating escalator when she fell on a shallow riser that lacked demarcation and warnings. Jane Doe’s head slammed against the escalator glass, and she instantaneously blacked out, sustaining black eyes commonly known as panda eyes in these instances.
The evening of the shopping center fall was a critical one for our client and treating physicians were concerned about the sustained concussion and traumatic brain injury. For the weeks following the escalator fall, Jane Doe’s panda eyes continued to intensify, and she spent significant time treating her other bodily injuries which included orthopedic injuries to the cervical spine and lumbar spine, as well as lacerations to her toes. Ultimately our client’s treating physician and the defense neuropsychologist expert diagnosed Jane Doe with a concussion, and the panda eyes served as irrebuttable evidence that there was direct trauma to the head.
Following the shopping center fall, the traumatic brain injury manifested in part as behavioral and emotional changes. Specifically, our client’s judgment and behavior altered following the TBI. As a result of these behavioral and emotional changes, her relationship with family and friends were adversely impacted. After prolonged civil litigation and an initial defense settlement offer of $10,000.00 (Ten Thousand Dollars), the parties to the action underwent two rounds of mediation and reached a pre-trial settlement of $280,000.00 (Two Hundred Eight Thousand Dollars). Jane Doe will never be made whole as her sustained personal injuries are permanent, including the TBI; however, there was a sense of vindication following the case result.
Stopped or non-operating escalators are a dangerous condition when pedestrians are permitted to climb them as if it were a staircase. Escalators which lack demarcation are even more dangerous when non-operational and used as a staircase because the height of the risers and the lack of uniformity becomes even harder to discern.
The dangerous condition created by allowing pedestrians to utilize a stopped escalator could be reduced or eliminated in several ways. The available remedial measures include running the escalator at any time that pedestrians are allowed access to the escalator, or properly barricading the escalator to prevent use by pedestrians when the escalator is not running. Despite these know dangers, the foreseeable harm and the ease of remedial measures, the shopping center did not maintain the escalator in a reasonable safe condition.
When asked in discovery, “[w]hy was the ESCALATOR not barricaded on the date of the INCIDENT”; the shopping center responded: ‘[s]o that it could serve as a staircase for patrons.’” In further discovery when inquired whether the shopping center “has the ability to barricade an escalator” the shopping center answered “yes … yes”.
It is well established that commercial operators of escalators may be common carriers for reward. (Gomez v. Superior Court, 35 Cal.4th 1125, 29 Cal. Rptr. 3d 352, 113 P.3d 41 (Cal. 2005)). As such, a shopping center is held to a heightened duty of care and has the obligation to “do all that human care, vigilance, and foresight reasonably can do under the circumstances” yet, the shopping center in this matter failed to do so.
There is no dispute that Jane Doe suffered a direct blow to the head, further evidenced by the panda eyes and lacerations to her forehead. Ultimately Jane Doe was diagnosed with a concussion and traumatic brain injury the symptoms of which manifested as follows:
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