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ARTICLE ID 143110

$________ UNIVERSAL Failure to secure mat in alcove of office building - Trip and fall - Hip fracture.

Monmouth County

The 62-year-old plaintiff, who owned a business situated directly off the lobby of the office building that was owned by the defendant, contended that the defendant negligently failed to glue or otherwise secure the mat in the alcove. The plaintiff contended that as a result, the mat was missing and that when she went to her office on a Sunday, the height differential created by the removal of the mat resulted in her tripping and falling on the door saddle, fracturing her hip.

The plaintiff also made a worker’s compensation claim. The compensation carrier, which was the same carrier who provided liability coverage to the defendant landlord, maintained that the accident occurred as the plaintiff was on her way to work and that the claim was barred by the so-called "going and coming rule." The plaintiff countered that her office was directly off the lobby of the building and maintained that she should be considered at work when the accident occurred.

The plaintiff’s expert engineer maintained that once accustomed to the height differential between the door saddle and mat, the removal of the mat created a tripping hazard and the defendant landlord should have glued or otherwise secured the mat. The defendant’s expert denied that the incident could have occurred as described by the plaintiff. The expert maintained that upon tripping over the door saddle, the plaintiff would fall in such a manner that her feet would be completely within the alcove. The plaintiff was found outside of the alcove.

The plaintiff countered that as she tripped, her cell phone fell onto the sidewalk outside of the alcove and that although she was in pain, she slid a slight distance to reach the cell phone and call for assistance. The plaintiff suffered a fractured hip and required pinning. The plaintiff contended that she will suffer permanent pain and difficulties ambulating. The plaintiff made no income claims.

The parties agreed to a full and final settlement of $________. The settlement encompassed the worker’s compensation claim and the plaintiff was not required to satisfy the compensation lien.

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