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Palm Beach County, FL

The plaintiff alleged that the defendants, the owner and property manager of an office building, negligently maintained an indoor landscape area in the entranceway of the building. As a result, the plaintiff claimed that she was caused to trip and fall. The defendant maintained that the landscaping area, built into the floor of the atrium, was open and obvious, and that the plaintiff failed to watch where she was walking. In addition, the defendant contended that the plaintiff’s injuries pre-existed the fall for many years.

The plaintiff, and her business associate, testified that the plaintiff tripped and fell in the landscape planter, which was located near the entrance to the atrium of the office building where the plaintiff was attending a business networking luncheon. The plaintiff testified that her attention was drawn to the left of the atrium, where the destination restaurant and security guard station were situated. The plaintiff’s human factor’s expert opined that the grey floor tile (although bordered by pink tile) created an illusion that the white landscape rocks were actually floor tile. The plaintiff’s engineer testified that the constructions plans called for plants to be planted where the rocks had been placed.

The plaintiff, age 61 at the time, was diagnosed with lumbar disc herniations, which her doctors causally related to the fall. She underwent three lumbar surgeries, ultimately fusing four levels of her lumbar spine. The result was failed back syndrome, which caused the plaintiff to develop foot drop and walk with a walker. The plaintiff contended that she could no longer work as a salesperson for a national cosmetic chain. Her doctor also opined that additional lumbar surgery is indicated for the plaintiff in the future.

The plaintiff claimed past medical bills totaling $________. The plaintiff retained a life care planner and an economist, who projected future medical expenses in a “best case/ worse case scenario" from $________ to $________. The plaintiff’s husband asserted a claim for loss of services in the amount of $________.

The defendants called no witnesses, but vigorously cross examined the plaintiff’s medical and retained experts, regarding the plaintiff’s past medical history dating back 11 years before the fall, and including two work-related lumbar injuries. The defense contended that the records showed preexisting herniated discs and a surgical recommendation, and that there were inconsistencies in the plaintiff’s post-accident medical records.

The plaintiff’s liability experts were also thoroughly cross examined as to the logic of their conclusions based on photographs of the contrasting colors of the tile pattern leading up to the landscape rocks where the fall occurred.After a week and a half of trial, the jury deliberated for an hour before finding no negligence on the part of the defendants, which was a legal cause of injury to the plaintiff. The defendants claim entitlement to costs and attorney fees based on a proposal for settlement.

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