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$________ GROSS Failure to place warning signs or give warnings of partially hidden elevated pipe running across property - Plaintiff employee of lawn service catapulted over lawn mower as it strikes sewer clean-out pipe - Plaintiff suffers burns to abdomen and arm from contacting hot lawn mower pipe.

Monmouth County

The male plaintiff, age 21 at the time of the accident, who was employed by a lawn service, contended that the defendant homeowner whose lawn he was cutting, negligently failed to place warning signs, warning flags or provide oral warnings of a known hidden hazard on a sewer clean-out pipe which protruded approximately five inches above the ground. The plaintiff did not contend that the mere presence of the pipe, which provided access to the waste system, was improper, but contended that in the absence of warnings, the cast iron pipe, which was painted a green color on top, was hazardous.

The defendant maintained that the pipe was open and obvious and that the cause of the incident was the negligent failure of the plaintiff to make adequate observations. The plaintiff’s employer testified for the defendant and contended that he never had a problem observing the pipe when he had previously mowed the defendant’s lawn. The plaintiff, who had worked for the employer for three months, contended that he had not previously been in this area of the subject property. The plaintiff also contended that the grass was high at the time, impeding the pipe’s visibility.

The plaintiff related that when the large, self-propelled mower struck the pipe, he was catapulted over it and that his abdomen and arm contacted a hot portion of the mower. The plaintiff maintained that he suffered primarily second degree with some small areas of the third degree burns on a large area of the abdomen and second degree burns to a smaller area of the arm. The plaintiff contended that the recuperation was very painful and that the resulting significant scarring is permanent. The plaintiff contended that he is very self-conscious of the scarring.

The jury found the defendant 60% negligent, the plaintiff 40% comparatively negligent and rendered a gross award of $________.

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