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ARTICLE ID 201806

$________ - SLIP AND FALL ON ICE AND SNOW ON SIDEWALK ABUTTING HARDWARE STORE IN WHICH HAZARD ALLEGEDLY HEIGHTENED BY BROKEN SIDEWALK WHICH ALLOWED WATER TO POOL - SEVERE ANKLE FRACTURE - DVT - OPEN REDUCTION INTERNAL FIXATION SURGICAL HARDWARE INSTALLATION AND REMOVAL OF PLATE AND SCREWS - ALTERED GAIT CAUSES HIP ARTHRITIS AND NEED FOR HIP REPLACEMENT - DEFENDANT CONTENDS THAT PLAINTIFF, WHO LIVED NEXT TO DEFENDANT, PARKED IN LOT AND FELL ON GRASS LOCATED BETWEEN PROPERTIES AND NOT ON SIDEWALK AS ALLEGED.

Ocean County, NJ

This premises liability action involved a male plaintiff, age 50, who lived in the rental home located next door to the defendant’s hardware store. The plaintiff contended that snow and ice had been removed by the defendant in a negligent fashion, and that the hazard was heightened because a portion of the sidewalk was broken up, allowing water to pool and then freeze. The plaintiff maintained that as a result, he suffered a severe ankle fracture when he slipped and fell over this portion of the sidewalk. The defendant denied that the plaintiff fell on the sidewalk and maintained that the plaintiff often parked in an adjoining parking lot and that the fall occurred as he walked over a crassy area between this parking lot and his rental home.

The evidence revealed that the actual fall was not witnessed. An individual who had worked as an independent contractor/installer for the defendant for many years saw the plaintiff screaming for help near a snow mound located approximately six feet from the point the plaintiff claimed he fell. It was undisputed that if the incident occurred where this individual found him, the sidewalk would not have been involved. The plaintiff maintained that after he fell on the sidewalk, he was afraid of falling into shock before he obtained help and crawled to the nearby snow mound which was located closer to the properties and at the location he was found by the non-party installer. The defendant denied that the plaintiff’s claims in this regard should be accepted. The defendant asserted that the plaintiff often parked in an adjoining lot and likely fell between this lot and his rental home. The plaintiff vigorously denied that this allegation was accurate.

The defendant presented a retired police Captain who had resided across the street from the hardware store since he was a young child. This witness would have indicated that when he returned home that day and saw the ambulances at the scene, he believed that he saw the plaintiff’s pick-up truck parked in the hardware store parking lot. The plaintiff countered that a jury should consider that in addition to likely bias in favor of his long-time friends, this witness also had the defendant’s permission to use the same parking lot during summer months when parking in this shore community was at a premium. The plaintiff would have pointed out that although one of the defendants indicated during discovery that he and the witness had several conversations about the incident before their depositions, the witness indicated in deposition that the pair had only one conversation about the incident, arguing that this discrepancy should further impact on the veracity of this witness’ testimony.

The plaintiff claimed that he suffered a medial malleolar and proximal fibular fracture with disruption of the syndesmosis. He underwent open reduction internal fixation of the left ankle syndesmosis with surgical hardware installation of plate and screws. This surgical hardware was removed during a second surgery two months later. The plaintiff maintained that he subsequently developed a DVT which required the placement of an inferior vena cava filter. He also claimed that the dynamics of the fall aggravated a preexisting condition of asymptomatic hip arthritis which, in combination with the altered gate from the ankle injury, required the plaintiff to undergo a hip replacement. The plaintiff claimed that as a result of his injuries and surgeries, he missed several months from work as a lumber salesman. The case settled prior to trial for $________.

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