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DEFENDANT’S Admiralty – Slip and fall aboard cruise ship – Lack of non-skid surface in buffet area – Compound shoulder fracture with surgery to plaintiff passenger.

U.S. District Court - Southern District of Florida

The plaintiff was enjoying a Mediterranean cruise aboard one of the defendant’s cruise ships when she slipped and fell in a buffet area. The plaintiff claimed that the defendant was negligent in failing to maintain the floor in a safe condition and in failing to install a non-skid surface. The defendant denied that there was any foreign substance on the floor and contended that the fall resulted from the plaintiff’s own negligence.

The plaintiff was a 58-year-old female passenger aboard the defendant’s ship. She testified that she was in one of the ship’s cafes and was walking near the buffet table when she slipped and fell as a result of a wet, slippery substance on the ceramic tile floor. The plaintiff and her husband both testified that they observed moisture on the floor following the fall. The plaintiff’s engineer testified that he tested the floor in question and found it to be dangerously slippery when wet. The plaintiff was diagnosed with a compound shoulder fracture which required open reduction and internal fixation.

A waitress employed by the defendant testified that she saw the plaintiff running through the dining room in high heels before she fell. The waitress, as well as the ship’s doctor (who happened to be in the restaurant at the time) testified that the floor was clean and dry in the area of the fall.The jury found no negligence on the part of the defendant which was a legal cause of injury to the plaintiff. The case was previously tried with a defense verdict. The plaintiff appealed and was granted a new trial based on the previous trial court’s sua sponte preclusion of testimony from the plaintiff’s expert engineer. The previous trial court ruled that the issue was whether the floor was wet or dry did not require expert testimony. The defendant’s motion to tax costs is pending.

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