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DEFENDANT’S Premises liability – Alleged dangerous condition at restaurant/resort – Trip and fall down stairs – Compression fractures – Aggravation of preexisting back condition.

Citrus County, FL

The female plaintiff was enjoying drinks on a first date at the defendant’s restaurant/resort when she tripped and fell down the exterior stairs. The plaintiff alleged that the wooden stairs were dangerous and violated applicable code requirements. The defendant argued that the stairs were not dangerous and that the fall was not the cause of the plaintiff’s ongoing symptoms.

The plaintiff claimed that her boot heel caught on something on the stairs and caused her to fall. The plaintiff’s architect testified that the handrail violated the applicable building code in several respects including a defective design and excessive height. The plaintiff had undergone a prior lumbar fusion before the date of the fall. Her physiatrist opined that the fall caused compression fractures in the plaintiff’s lumbar and thoracic spine and aggravated her preexisting back condition.

The defendant argued that the stairs were not dangerous and the plaintiff could not say what caused her fall. The defense also argued that any alleged code violations pertaining to the handrail were not the cause of the plaintiff’s fall. The defense contended that a certificate of occupancy had been issued and the defendant reasonably relied upon that document as a confirmation that code requirements had been met. The defendant also argued that the plaintiff’s fall-related compression fractures had healed and any on-going symptoms were unrelated to the fall.The jury found no negligence on the part of the defendant which was a legal cause of injury to the plaintiff.

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