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Miami-Dade County, FL

This case involved an 86-year-old man who fell on February 13, ________ while descending the steps in front of the defendant, Mount Sinai Hospital. The plaintiff alleged that the steps were dangerous, lacked contrasting color paint and failed to meet applicable code requirements. The plaintiff claimed that the decedent’s fall-related injuries resulted in his death approximately 30 days later. The defendant denied that the steps were dangerous or that they were the cause of the plaintiff’s fall. The defense also disputed that the fall was the cause of the decedent’s ultimate death.

The decedent had escorted his wife to a cardiology appointment at the defendant hospital and was exiting the building when he tripped and fell down the steps. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant hospital had ignored a prior fall in the area and allowed a building code violation to exist on the steps in that the steps were not uniform. The plaintiff’s engineer testified that the defendant also failed to paint all the steps uniformly yellow to alert pedestrians, including the elderly decedent and his wife, of the changes in elevation.

The decedent was diagnosed with a hip fracture in four places as a result of the fall. He was transported to the hospital and underwent surgery the next day. During the decedent’s hospitalization over the following 30-day period, records showed that he developed a MRSA infection and pneumonia.

The plaintiff alleged that the initial fall caused medical complications and a downward spiral in the decedent’s health which eventually led to his death. The plaintiff’s orthopedic surgeon testified that there was a direct connection between the decedent’s initial hip fracture and his ultimate death.

The decedent was survived by his wife of 42 years, who is a mother, grandmother, great grandmother, and great-great grandmother.

The defendant hospital denied responsibility for the decedent’s fall and stressed his medical history, which included dizziness. Defense evidence showed that the initial rescue reports stated that the decedent "got dizzy and fell." The defendant contended that the steps were not dangerous or defective in any way. The defendant’s building expert testified that the steps met all applicable building code requirements.

The defense also asserted that there were no independent witnesses to the accident and that the plaintiff could not establish the location or the cause of the decedent’s fall. The decedent had not been deposed and gave no statements prior to his death.

The defendant called a county bus driver who testified that the decedent’s fall occurred beyond the steps. The defense also introduced a video from the bus security camera. However, plaintiff’s counsel pinpointed a part of the video which had not been shown to the jury and which plaintiff’s counsel argued depicted the bus driver reenacting the plaintiffs fall down the steps. Finally, the defense maintained that medical evidence indicated that the decedent had suffered a stroke and that his death was unrelated to the injuries he sustained in the fall.

The jury found the defendant hospital ________% negligent. The plaintiff was awarded a total of $________ in damages. The award included $________ in medical expenses and $________ to the plaintiff wife. The plaintiff has a filed a motion to tax costs and fees pursuant to two proposals for settlement; one for $________ and the other for $________.

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