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Miami-Dade County, FL

The plaintiff claimed that he slipped and fell on a slippery wooden pool deck at a Miami Beach hotel managed by the defendant. The defendant argued that the plaintiff was a trespasser on the premises at the time of his fall, and that several large, yellow warning cones were placed on the deck by the hotel prior to the incident. The plaintiff, age 53 at the time, testified that he arrived at the defendant’s hotel in the early morning to meet a female friend for lunch, and that he intended to spend the night with her at the hotel. The plaintiff claimed that he was not yet checked into the hotel when he went out to the pool area, and the pool attendant gave him a towel and showed him to a lounge chair by the pool. The plaintiff contended that he was walking across the plaza to have breakfast, when he fell on a wooden deck which was slippery with algae. The plaintiff claimed that sandpaper strips adhered to the deck, and had all but peeled away. The plaintiff introduced photographs, which he claimed were taken at approximately 9 a.m., and depicted the condition of the deck at the time of his fall. The plaintiff also alleged that there were no cones or warning signs visible on the deck at the time of his fall. The defendant’s former pool attendant confirmed that he seated the plaintiff by the swimming pool, and also testified that he watched the warning cones be put up after the plaintiff’s fall. A former contract landscaper for the hotel testified that he placed the cones after (and because of) the plaintiff’s fall. Both the pool attendant and the landscaper went on to testify that others, including the landscaper, had slipped and fallen on prior occasions in the same spot that the plaintiff fell. The plaintiff claimed that the fall caused herniated discs in both his cervical and lumbar spine, which required surgery. In addition, the plaintiff alleged that he sustained a rotator cuff tear, which also necessitated surgery. The plaintiff, who was an unemployed artist, claimed $________ in past medical expenses. The defense pointed out that the female friend whom the plaintiff claimed to be meeting at the hotel, and the male friend who allegedly drove him to the hotel that morning, were never produced for deposition or trial.

The defendant argued that the plaintiff claimed he attempted to check into the hotel that morning, and was told there were no rooms available; however, records demonstrated that there were plenty of rooms available, according to the defendant. The defense also argued that the plaintiff claimed to have walked through the hotel’s lobby, unimpeded out to the pool in the early morning; but to do so, he would have walked by signage indicating the hotel’s pools were for the use of “registered hotel guests only.” The defense maintained that time cards for the hotel’s former pool attendant showed that he was not at the hotel at the time of the plaintiff’s alleged fall. The defendant additionally argued that the plaintiff claimed his fall occurred shortly before 9:51 am; however, the defendant’s forensic examiner testified that the metadata imbedded in a photograph taken by the plaintiff with his cellphone conclusively demonstrated that the plaintiff was present at the hotel pool three hours earlier, at 6:51 am (sunrise that morning was 6:37 am.) That same photograph also showed that the warning cones were present at that early hour, according to defense claims.

Finally, the defendant maintained that the plaintiff’s neck, back and shoulder conditions preexisted the date of the incident.The jury found the defendant 50% negligent, and the plaintiff 50% comparatively negligent. The plaintiff was awarded $________ in damages, reduced to a net recovery of $________.

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