PERSONAL INJURY I SLIP AND FALL I CASE STUDY – $7,170,000 Verdict following an Employee Slip and Fall Accident

PERSONAL INJURY I SLIP AND FALL I CASE STUDY – $7,170,000 Verdict following an Employee Slip and Fall Accident

July 09, 2020

The Court in this 2017 slip and fall case reiterates the necessity of placing caution signs when mopping floors.  The Court goes on to confirm that a Plaintiff is not contributorily negligent even if the Plaintiff is aware that the premise is being mopped at the time. Slip and fall cases have consistently held that when an establishment is mopping the premise floors, they have created a dangerous condition and must negate the risk of harm.  A risk of harm can only be negated by placing warning signs and/or barricading the freshly mopped area, so people will not walk on the slippery floors.  This obligation to barricade a freshly mopped area and erect warning and caution signs is for the benefit and safety of customers as well as store employees.  Further the landowner’s obligation to keep the premise in a reasonable safe condition extends to all hours, not only those times the commercial entity is open for operation.

Case Study: $ 7,170,000 Premises Liability VERDICT:  On February 17, 2013 at approximately 8:35 am, prior to the store’s opening, the young 33-year-old Plaintiff and store manager reported to work at Sephora.  At that time, Thoreau Janitorial Services were on the store premises mopping the floors in anticipation for the start of business.  The Plaintiff knew that the Thoreau Janitorial Services were on the premises at the time, but incorrectly thought that they were mopping the back of the store.  Thoreau Janitorial Services on the date of loss failed to erect any yellow warning signs where they had mopped. The Plaintiff walked to the front of the store and slipped on a watery substance because Thoreau Janitorial Services failed to place yellow caution signs at the front of the store.

The defendant, Thoreau Janitorial Services attempted to evade liability by asserting that the Plaintiff knew that Janitorial Services mopped every morning at 8 am, the Plaintiff heard the cleaning team filling up water buckets and there was a distinct scent of pine cleaning material.  The court did not agree.

Judge Virginia Keeny found that Thoreau Janitorial Services was negligent and that its negligence was a substantial factor in causing Plaintiff harm. She also found that there was no reasonable evidence showing that Plaintiff was contributorily negligent in causing her injuries.

As a result of the fall the Plaintiff sustained a contusion to her right hip and suffered from a herniated lumbar disc.  The Plaintiff attempted to treat her slip and fall injuries with conservative treatment which included EMG studies, physical therapy, and epidural injections. Once it was evident that conservative measure did not suffice, she eventually underwent a lumbar discectomy more than three years after the fall.  The lumbar discectomy operation did not relieve her injuries and the Plaintiff was ultimately diagnosed with complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), also known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy or causalgia, a chronic pain condition; in response a pain pump implanted in her lumbar spine 4.5 years after the fall. Following a 7-day bench trial a judge found that the defendant Thoreau Janitorial Services, Inc. was negligent in failing to place signage and awarded the Plaintiff $7.17 million in compensatory damages.  SOURCE: Shannon Kolstad v. Thoreau Janitorial Services, Inc.; H&H Retail Owner, LLC and Does 1 to 50; 2017 Jury – Verdicts LEXIS 15347

This 2017 slip and fall case confirms that a landowner’s basic duty of care to give adequate warnings of slip hazards including the existence of freshly mopped floors, extends to all hours of the day and is for the benefit of all persons on the premise, including customers and employees alike. The obligation of a landowner or premise occupier in a slip and fall accident is outlined in jury instruction CACI 1001 which states:

A Commercial Establishment that owns or occupies property is negligent if they fail to use reasonable care to keep the property in a reasonably safe condition. A Commercial Establishment that owns or occupies property must use reasonable care to discover any unsafe conditions and to repair, replace, or give adequate warning of anything that could be reasonably expected to harm others.” – CACI 1001. PREMISES LIABILITY – Basic Duty of Care

For further discussions on Slip and Fall accidents and Negligent Torts, links are included below:

If you are wondering “do I need a slip and fall lawyer?” please see our previous blogs on this subject below:

If you have any questions about your personal injury case, premise liability or a slip and fall accident in general, we invite you to call us today at 619-432-5145 for a free consultation with one of our experienced San Diego premise liability attorneys or California slip and fall lawyers.

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