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DEFENDANT’S Construction negligence – Failure to cover or barricade open trench – Failure to warn – Fall into trench – Ankle fracture with surgery.

Palm Beach County, FL

The plaintiff was working to locate underground cables at a site where the defendant construction company had installed cables three years earlier.

The plaintiff claimed that the defendant, or the defendant’s subcontractor, negligently left a trench open for three years, into which the plaintiff fell and sustained injuries. The defendant denied responsibility for the open trench. Florida Department of Transportation and Bellsouth were dismissed from the case prior to trial.

The plaintiff was diagnosed with an ankle fracture as a result of falling into the open trench. He underwent open reduction and internal fixation of the fracture. The plaintiff claimed that the defendant was negligent in failing to cover the open hole, to place adequate warnings or to barricade it for safety.

The defendant argued that there was no evidence that it was responsible for the leaving the trench open. The defense argued that there were numerous contractors and subcontractors working at the site over the course of the three years, and it was unknown which one had dug the trench and left it open.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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