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ARTICLE ID 46887

$________ GROSS - PREMISES LIABILITY - FAILURE OF HOSPITAL TO MAINTAIN PARKING LOT - SLIP AND FALL ON ICE AND SNOW - ELBOW FRACTURE - OPEN REDUCTION - INTERNAL FIXATION - ULNAR NERVE INJURY - AGGRAVATION OF PREEXISTING NECK AND BACK CONDITIONS - INABILITY TO CONTINUE WORK AS DENTAL RECEPTIONIST - 10% COMPARATIVE NEGLIGENCE FOUND.

Philadelphia County

The plaintiff was a dental receptionist in her mid-50s who slipped and fell in the parking lot of the defendant hospital. The plaintiff claimed that the fall resulted from the defendant’s failure to maintain the lot in a safe condition free of ice and snow. The defendant argued that it acted reasonably in plowing and salting the parking lot and that the plaintiff failed to use due caution in slippery conditions. A snow-removal contractor was also named as a defendant, but was dismissed from the case prior to trial.

The plaintiff testified that on December 8, ________, she underwent an out-patient ultrasound at the defendant hospital and was returning to her vehicle. The plaintiff testified that she slipped and fell as a result of ice and snow in the defendant’s parking lot. The plaintiff introduced photographs of the parking lot taken the day after the fall. The plaintiff also contended that the last snow had fallen several days before the accident and the conditions in the area at the time were not generally slippery.

The plaintiff’s orthopedic surgeon testified that the plaintiff sustained an olecranon fracture of the elbow in her dominant right arm, requiring open reduction and internal fixation. The orthopedic hardware was removed several months later in a second surgery. The plaintiff’s orthopedic surgeon testified that the plaintiff has been left with a permanent injury to the ulnar nerve and is permanently limited in her lifting ability. He testified that the plaintiff is in chronic pain and, the more she uses her right arm, the more she will increase the risk of requiring additional surgery for an ulnar nerve transposition. The plaintiff contended that she was trying to avoid that surgery.

The plaintiff’s doctor also testified that the plaintiff aggravated a preexisting degenerative condition of her cervical and lumbar spine as a result of the fall. The plaintiff underwent epidural injections to both her cervical and lumbar spine after the accident.

The plaintiff’s vocational expert testified that the plaintiff’s injuries prevented her from returning to work as a dental receptionist, a position which requires typing, filing and answering the telephone.

The plaintiff was working part-time at the time of the fall, but testified that she had been planning to return to work full-time before she was injured. The plaintiff testified she had worked as a full-time receptionist for the same dentist for 20 years until he retired. She claimed she was using the part-time position to learn computer skills so that she could return to full-time employment. In addition to her claim for a diminished earning capacity, the plaintiff introduced evidence of a $________ medical lien.

The defendant argued that the parking lot had been plowed and salted and that it acted reasonably in maintaining it.

The defendant’s orthopedic surgeon opined that with surgery, the plaintiff’s elbow fracture had healed well. The plaintiff’s vocational expert opined that the plaintiff was capable of returning to her employment as a part time dental receptionist with modifications or could find alternative employment.

The jury found the defendant 90% negligent and the plaintiff 10% comparatively negligent. The plaintiff was awarded $________ in damages, which was reduced accordingly. The jury declined to award damages to the plaintiff’s husband for his loss of consortium claim. The defendant’s post-trial motions have recently been denied.

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