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ARTICLE ID 142914

$________ REDUCED BY 25% COMPARATIVE NEGLIGENCE Premises liability - Absence of adequate lighting at rehabilitation facility - Failure to secure parking block - Plaintiff, stepping from lighted canopy into darkened parking lot, trips and falls over parking block - Tibial plateau fracture - Intracondylar fracture in area of tibia and fibula - Fracture to medial malleolus treated conservatively.

Ocean County

The plaintiff, 66 at the time, who was leaving the defendant’s rehabilitation facility after visiting her husband, contended that as she stepped from the lighted canopy into the darkened parking lot, she tripped and fell over a concrete parking block that was not properly secured into the lot. The incident occurred at approximately 9:00 p.m. The parking lot lights were controlled by a timer, were supposed to be activated a few hours earlier and the plaintiff contended that the defendant either failed to set the timer or failed to properly inspect the area and realize that the lights were not functioning.

The plaintiff’s engineer contended that the lighting in the parking lot was inadequate and that the contrast to an individual walking from the lighted canopy into the darkened lot, heightened the hazard. The defendant’s engineer maintained that the lighting was adequate and conformed to industry standards. The expert could not dispute, however, that the municipal code required brighter lighting than that in the lot. The defendant further maintained that the plaintiff, who had been visiting the facility for approximately two weeks, was familiar with the area and was comparatively negligent.

The plaintiff contended that she suffered a fracture to the left tibial plateau and a vertical intracondylar spinal fracture in the area between the tibia and fibula. These injuries were treated by way of open surgery and the installation of hardware that the plaintiff maintained will remain permanently. The plaintiff maintained that she will permanently suffer very significant pain and restriction from these injuries. The fracture to the medial malleolus was treated conservatively and the plaintiff maintained that this injury will cause some permanent pain and limitations as well.

The defendant’s orthopedist contended that he observed significant degeneration in the knee and the defendant maintained that this factor was the cause of any continuing complaints. The plaintiff countered that she had no prior symptoms or treatment.

The arbitrators assessed 75% negligence against the defendant, 25% comparative negligence against the plaintiff and rendered a gross award of $________, which was reduced to $________.

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