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ARTICLE ID 7952

Security negligence at volusia county seaside hotel - Plaintiff allegedly attacked and thrown off second story balcony - Closed head injury with cognitive deficits - 19 fractures to legs, feet, shoulder and knees - Permanent blindness in one eye - Forced early retirement.

Volusia County, Florida

The male plaintiff was in his early 60s when he claimed he was attacked and thrown off a balcony at the defendant’s seaside hotel. The plaintiff alleged the defendant could have prevented the assault by providing adequate security. The defendant maintained the plaintiff fell off the balcony in a state of intoxication and was not assaulted as he alleged.

The plaintiff testified he was a guest at the defendant’s beachside hotel for the "Pepsi ________" auto races on July 5, ________. The plaintiff testified he returned to his room and went into the hall to smoke a cigarette at approximately 1:00 A.M.

The plaintiff alleged that one or two perpetrators struck him from behind in the hallway. The plaintiff testified he turned around and began fighting and punching at his assailants. However, the perpetrators picked him up and threw him over a concrete railing and off a balcony some 10 feet away, according to the plaintiff’s testimony.

The plaintiff fell 15 to 20 feet to the concrete pool deck below the balcony. He sustained a total of nineteen fractured bones, including fractures of the legs, feet, shoulder and knees. He underwent several surgeries, including internal fixation, for his orthopedic injuries.

The plaintiff claimed $________ in medical expenses.

The plaintiff’s neurologist testified the plaintiff also sustained a closed head injury, trauma to the brain and traumatic optic neuropathy which caused permanent blindness in one eye. The plaintiff complained of continued memory loss, loss of concentration and other cognitive deficits. The plaintiff was a municipal worker for 25 years prior to the incident. He claimed he planned to work until age 65, but was forced to retire early as a result of the injuries sustained in the attack. The plaintiff claimed economic damages, including a reduction in pension and loss of benefits, in the amount of $________ to $________.

The plaintiff’s security expert testified that crime grids showed the hotel to be in a high crime location with reports of similar attacks in the past. The plaintiff’s expert opined the defendant should have employed a roving security guard, surveillance cameras and gated access which would have prevented the attack upon the plaintiff.

@TITLEHD = DEFENDANTS’ CONTENTIONS The defendant called a toxicologist who testified that the plaintiff had a blood alcohol level roughly three times the legal limit or .25 at the time of injury. The defendant’s medically qualified biomechanical expert testified, based on the pattern of the plaintiff’s fractures, that the plaintiff landed on his feet. This meant the plaintiff went off the balcony feet first and the injury pattern was not consistent with being thrown off the balcony, according to the defendant’s expert.

The defense argued the plaintiff could only have been thrown off the balcony if he were held out under his arms and dropped.

Evidence also showed that police found $________ to $________ in cash in the plaintiff’s wallet. The plaintiff testified that, in addition to the money in his wallet, he had $________ cash in his front pocket which was stolen during the assault.

The defense called police officers who testified that no blood or other signs of a struggle was found at the scene of the alleged attack.

One of the officers testified that when he found the plaintiff on the ground, the plaintiff said "I fell." The plaintiff argued he was in shock and sustained a head injury and, if he made the statement, he did not realize what he was saying to the police officer at the time.

The defense additionally argued the plaintiff had given an inconsistent statement to a security expert to whom he reported he had gone outside to take pictures and was standing in a different place. Finally, the defense introduced the plaintiff’s deposition testimony, in which he stated he was not drunk and had only consumed three to four beers during the 12 hours prior to the assault.

The jury found the defendant was not negligent. The plaintiff has filed a posttrial motion for new trial. The defendant filed a proposal for settlement in the amount of $________ and has filed a motion for attorney fees and costs.

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