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ARTICLE ID 8266

$________ GROSS Slip and fall on sidewalk - Negligent failure to remove ice - Alleged defect in sidewalk - Fractured left ankle - Surgery to insert six screws and a plate.

Camden County, New Jersey

The female plaintiff, who was in her late 60’s in January, ________, the time of her injury, contended that she had just come out of the beauty parlor owned by the defendant Morley which was located on the first level of the defendant Playa Del Sol Condominiums. Plaintiff alleged that as she stepped onto the sidewalk in front of the beauty parlor, she slipped on ice which had formed in a depression in the sidewalk.

Plaintiff maintained that both the defendant Morley and the defendant Playa Del Sol had negligently failed to remove ice from the sidewalk and maintain the sidewalk in a safe condition. The plaintiff claimed that the codefendant Concrete Technology was also liable for installing a defective sidewalk.

At trial, the plaintiff contended that since there was no rain or snow the day preceding her injury, and since the defendant Playa Del Sol employed someone to patrol the area on a daily basis, the ice should have been observed and the sidewalk salted.

Regarding the plaintiff’s claim of a defective sidewalk, her expert engineer testified that there is a standard for concrete sidewalks which allows a 1/4 height differential in a ten foot span. The engineer, who testified that he examined the area where the plaintiff fell, stated that there was a 3/4 inch height differential between the depression and the rest of the sidewalk. The engineer used enlarged photographs to depict the depression in the sidewalk.

The plaintiff sustained a fractured ankle which was treated with surgery to insert six crews and a plate. While the plaintiff alleged residual pain, she was able to return to work and did not claim any economic loss. The plaintiff’s expert orthopedic surgeon testified that the result of an ankle fracture in persons in their late 60’s would be traumatic arthritis at the point of the fracture which would cause her greater pain than would be the case in younger people. To depict the plaintiff’s injury with greater clarity, plaintiff used a forensic artist’s colored depiction of the fractured ankle both before and after the surgery. The drawings were displayed on a big board during trial.

The defendants did not offer any expert testimony to dispute the plaintiff’s injuries. Regarding liability, the defendants denied that the sidewalk was icy, contending that if there had been ice, it would have been removed by the employee whose job it was to patrol and maintain the sidewalks surrounding the defendant’s premises on a daily basis. Further, the defendants argued that even if there had been ice present, the plaintiff was comparatively negligent in failing to observed the ice and avoid it. In addition, the defendant owner of the beauty shop testified that she had reported the presence of ice to the defendant Playa Del Sol earlier that day. The defendant Playa Del Sol, however, denied having received such notice.

The defendant Playa Del Sol was found to be 97% liable and the plaintiff was found to be 3% comparatively negligent. The jury concluded that there was no cause of action against the codefendant Concrete Technology.

The claim against the defendant Morley, the owner of the beauty shop, was dismissed prior to trial. The jury awarded a gross verdict of $________ to the plaintiff including $________ for pain and suffering and $________ for the husband’s per quod claim.

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