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Delaware County

The female plaintiff, age 35 at the time of the accident, brought this suit against the owner of a Delaware County property and a hospital operating a thrift shop at the location. The defendant property owner joined a second tenant of the premises who allegedly moved a barrier from the building’s loading dock ramp.

The plaintiff claimed that loading dock was dangerous and that the defendants failed to correct or warn of the condition. As a result, the plaintiff claimed that she drove up the ramp and off the end of the loading dock causing her car to plummet four feet to the ground.

The plaintiff was seven months pregnant on December 16, ________, when she went to a thrift shop operated by one of the defendants.

Upon leaving the defendant’s thrift shop, the plaintiff claimed that the exit to the parking lot was blocked by two forklifts and a tractor trailer, causing her to follow the road around in the opposite direction. There were no signs indicating "No Trespassing, Wrong Way, Go Back or Do Not Enter." There was a slight upgrade and the plaintiff’s vehicle drove up the ramp and off the end of the loading dock, fell four feet and struck the ground.

Discovery revealed that two other cars went partially off the same loading dock with their front wheels teetering over the edge of the loading dock. Evidence showed that fork-lifts had rescued the cars involved in the previous incidents. After the first car almost fell off the end of the loading dock, the defendant property owner placed red "dunce" caps across the ramp to block unauthorized vehicles from entering the loading dock area.

However, the dunce caps were reportedly stolen. The defendant property owner then put cement pavers across the ramp. The cement pavers were moved after the second car entered the area and almost went off the loading dock. The defendant property owner next erected a cement divider called a Jersey barrier, similar to the barrier that divides north and southbound traffic on Route 95. However, the barrier was placed on pieces of wood so that it could be moved for delivery trucks to use the loading dock.

Testimony indicated that there was no way to use the loading dock without moving this barrier.

The defendant property joined a tenant of the building claiming that the tenant moved the barrier and was responsible for the plaintiff’s accident. Liability against the defendant hospital which ran the thrift shop was premised on the allegation that it invited the plaintiff to its store which was in the middle of an industrial area and did not provide safe ingress and egress. The plaintiff’s engineer and design expert opined that there should have been permanent signs and barriers on the ramp and loading dock.

The plaintiff’s physicians reported that an MRI of the plaintiff’s cervical spine revealed a central disc herniation at C5-6 and EMG studies showed left C6 radiculopathy and severe, sub-acute compression neuropathy of the right median nerve with the carpal tunnel which was causally related to the accident.

Approximately a year after the accident, after extensive physical therapy and injections, the plaintiff underwent a cervical discectomy and fusion. She continued to complain of pain in the neck radiating down her right arm with pain and numbness in her right hand causing her to drop things. Her neurosurgeon then performed right carpal tunnel release surgery.

While the carpal tunnel surgery resolved the problem with the plaintiff’s right hand, she continued to complain of neck pain with pain radiating into her left shoulder girdle and numbness in the trapezius and rhomboids on the left side. The plaintiff described the pain as "icy hot in that area." She underwent additional physical therapy and four transforamenal C6 nerve blocks which she described as extremely painful. An EMG on October 22, ________, revealed a left suprascapular nerve abnormality with C6 radiculopathy. On March 9, ________, the plaintiff’s orthopedist diagnosed her has having suprascapular nerve palsy and performed a suprascapular nerve decompression of her left shoulder which involved a seven-inch saber incision into the left shoulder.

In December, ________, the plaintiff neurosurgeon wrote a report stating that the plaintiff could not work more than four hours a day because of her neck and shoulder injures. This expert qualified that opinion in his video deposition by stating that, if the plaintiff had a good result from the shoulder surgery, she might be able to return to work. The plaintiff’s orthopedist testified that the plaintiff’s prognosis for her surgery was poor. The plaintiff’s economist estimated the plaintiff’s loss of earning capacity at approximately $________.

After four days of trial, the plaintiff settled the case with the defendant property owner for a total of $________. The defendant property owner claimed a right of contribution against the defendant tenant who allegedly moved the barrier. The defendant hospital (thrift shop) was voluntarily dismissed during trial.

The case then proceeded to the jury on the defendant property owner’s claim for contribution and the jury determined the defendant property owner 60% negligent and the defendant tenant who allegedly moved the barrier 40% negligent, entitling the defendant property owner to be reimbursed 40% of the $________ settlement.

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