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ARTICLE ID 162129

$________ GROSS Premises liability - Hazardous premises - Negligent absence of railing on deck at hotel - Intoxicated plaintiff falls four feet from deck - Closed head injury - Subarachnoid hemorrhage - Neuropsychological deficits - Aggravation of prior soft tissue neck and back injuries - reduced by 49% comparative negligence.

Somerset County, NJ

This action involved a plaintiff guest, in his 60s, at a party held at the defendant’s hotel. The plaintiff, who was sitting on a deck, contended that the deck was dangerous and failed to meet code requirements. The plaintiff maintained that the four foot high deck should have contained a railing. The plaintiff also contended that a dangerous one inch high lip ran across the deck. The plaintiff maintained that as he pushed his chair forward and rose, he tripped over the lip and fell backwards to the ground four feet below. The defendant denied that the deck was dangerous.

The defendant also maintained that the cause of the incident was the negligence of the intoxicated plaintiff who tested with a.20 BAC after the incident. The manager had indicated that the plaintiff appeared intoxicated two to three hours earlier and the plaintiff maintained that if this allegation were true, the defendant had violated the Dram Shop Statute by continuing to serve him.

The plaintiff contended that he sustained a subarachnoid hemorrhage that cause neuropsychological deficits involving memory and concentration, which the plaintiff maintained were confirmed by a battery of neuropsychological tests, which are permanent in nature. The plaintiff had suffered soft tissue neck and back injuries in an incident in the 1980s. The evidence reflected that the plaintiff had continued to experience some symptoms in the intervening years. The plaintiff contended that the subject event occasioned an aggravation that is permanent in nature.

The jury found that the patio was safe. They also found for the plaintiff on the Dram Shop aspect and assessed 49% comparative negligence. They then rendered a gross award of $________, including $________ for pain and suffering, ________ for medicals bills and $________ on the per quod claim.

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