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Hudson County, NJ

This action involved a 35-year-old plaintiff who was commuting to her job in New York City, and who fell on a steep downward slope of the walkway on a mat, which the plaintiff contended was excessively slippery. The plaintiff contended that as a result, she suffered a fracture to the right, dominant distal humerus that required an open reduction and internal fixation, and which will permanently cause significant pain and restriction. The plaintiff, who specialized in internal medicine, and who provided extensive ob/gyn services to patients, including performing Pap Smears, maintained that because of the restriction in arm, she can no longer use the instruments required in properly performing the tests, and has referred numerous patients to colleagues, suffering very substantial income losses.

The plaintiff contended that the walkway was particularly steep. The plaintiff established that during wet conditions, the defendants would routinely place mats on the floor and maintained that the area remained highly slippery despite these mats. The plaintiff pointed to meteorological records that reflected intermittent snow for the past several days and that approximately one and a-half inches of rain had fallen during the preceding 24-hour period. The plaintiff maintained that there were no signs warning of a slippery condition. The plaintiff also established that approximately 18 hours earlier, another patron had slipped and fallen in the same area and that although the area was closed for a brief period, it was reopened without any warning signs being placed.

The plaintiff maintained that the defendant Port Authority has the same duties as a commercial landlord. The plaintiff also established that the station contains no commercial tenants and that the only reason an individual would be in the station would be to use the train. The plaintiff maintained in limine that the defendants should be held to the higher standard of common carriers and the court concurred.

The defendants maintained that the plaintiff, who used the area numerous times in the past during her daily commute, was overwhelmingly comparatively negligent in failing to use the available hand rail. The plaintiff countered that she walked as she had on the numerous prior occasions, that as is typically the case, she left early for work and was not hurrying, and that there was no evidence that she acted in any negligent manner. The plaintiff also maintained that because of her regular prior use in and of itself, she could not reasonably anticipate that she would slip and fall on the day in question, especially since no warning signs had been placed.

The plaintiff worked at New York University Medical Center and slightly more than a year prior to the incident, she started her own practice. The plaintiff related that although specializing in internal medicine, she provided a significant amount of ob/gyn type services, including performing Pap Smears. The plaintiff maintained that because of the extensive restriction in extending and elevating the dominant arm, she can no longer provide many of the services and has referred numerous patients to other physicians. The plaintiff testified that many of the physicians with whom she graduated, and who have opened their own practices, have approximately ________ patients. The plaintiff contended that because of the restriction, she only has approximately ________ patients. The plaintiff maintained that based upon the testimony of her vocational expert, she will experience significant future economic losses.

The plaintiff also maintained that the loss of enjoyment of life associated with the injuries is very substantial. The plaintiff related that she often has difficulties sleeping because of numbness and tingling in her arm. The plaintiff further contended that she is very restricted in continuing favored activities such as playing the piano, working out and playing tennis. The plaintiff also testified that she plans on having children in the future and is concerned about her ability to carry a baby or young child.

The jury found the Port Authority 75% negligent, the maintenance contractor 25% negligent and awarded $________, including $________ for past lost earnings, $________ in future lost earnings, $________ in past household expenses, $________ for future household expenses and $________ for past and future pain, suffering, disability and loss of enjoyment of life.

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