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Premises liability - Hazardous premises - Alleged dangerous parking lot condition - Trip and fall on curbing - Calcaneus fracture with surgery - complicated by infection - Alleged back injury.

Miami-Dade County, FL

The plaintiff alleged that the defendant corporate owner of a shopping center allowed a dangerous condition to exist in its parking lot. Specifically, the plaintiff complained of a curb which she claimed lacked sufficiently contrasting coloration. The plaintiff alleged that, as a result, she was caused to trip and fall off the curb. The defendant maintained that the parking lot and curb met all required standards and was not dangerous. The defense also disputed the extent and nature of the injuries which the plaintiff claimed resulted from the fall.

The plaintiff was a disabled woman in her late 50s at the time in question. She testified that she parked in a disabled parking space in the defendant’s shopping center and was walking to the movie theater with the assistance of a cane when she stepped off the curbing and fell.

The plaintiff alleged that she was not required to step up from the parking lot to the sidewalk (because it was all one level) and she did not expect a step down on the other side of the sidewalk. The plaintiff’s engineer opined that the defendant should have provided some type of warning or notice to alert the plaintiff of the elevation change, such as painting the curb a bright yellow. The sidewalk was a pink color and the curbing was cement gray.

The plaintiff was diagnosed with a calcaneus (heel) fracture which required surgery and subsequently developed infection. The plaintiff underwent antibiotic therapy, as well as chemotherapy to fight the infection.

The plaintiff alleged that the fungal infection spread from her heel to her eye and her lumbar spine. The plaintiff’s physician opined that the plaintiff will require a spinal fusion in the future to stabilize her loss of vertebrae. The plaintiff sought $________ in past medical expenses and $________ in future medical care. Plaintiff’s counsel requested $3.8 million in damages during closing statements.

The defendant maintained that the plaintiff’s fall was caused by her failure to watch where she was walking and that the curb and parking lot was not dangerous. The defense contended that the plaintiff had a safe alternate route along the sidewalk with no changes in elevation, but she chose to walk off the sidewalk into a loading area. The defense also contended that the plaintiff’s lumbar condition preexisted the date of the fall and was not causally related to her foot infection as alleged.

The jury found no negligence on the part of the defendant which was a legal cause of injury to the plaintiff.

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