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Philadelphia County

The plaintiff claimed that the defendant hospital provided him with a defective A-frame ladder with worn out foot pads. The ladder slipped causing the plaintiff to fall. The defendant hospital maintained that it was not in control of the area where the ladder was stored, did not supply the ladder to the plaintiff and was not responsible for the condition of the ladder. Over five years prior to the plaintiff’s accident, the defendant had contracted with an outside maintenance company to provide all maintenance services to the hospital. The defense also argued that the ladder was misused by the plaintiff in that he climbed it in the closed position, without opening it, thereby causing the fall.

The plaintiff, a journeyman plumber, previously worked for the defendant hospital’s maintenance department. However, at the time of the accident the plaintiff was employed by the outside maintenance company. The plaintiff was assigned to perform plumbing maintenance to the defendant’s five buildings.

One of the buildings had a steam leak on the roof, which the plaintiff undertook to repair. The plaintiff went up to the penthouse, a structure on the roof of the building, and obtained an eight-foot aluminum A-frame ladder. The plaintiff claimed that the ladder was owned by defendant hospital and supplied by defendant. The plaintiff went up on the ladder while the ladder was in a closed position and was coming down, when the ladder slipped causing him to fall.

The plaintiff testified that he was climbing on an air handler in the penthouse and used the ladder by leaning it against the air handler without opening it. The plaintiff contended that he could not open the ladder, because pipes prevented it from being used in the open position. The plaintiff testified that his foreman saw him using the ladder in the closed position and the foreman, himself climbed up the ladder prior to the accident.

The plaintiff’s biomechanical engineer testified that the feet of the aluminum ladder were worn out and that the ladder should have been replaced. Photographs of the ladder and the ladder feet were introduced into evidence. The plaintiff claimed that the bare aluminum feet of the ladder caused the ladder to slip.

Several witnesses testified that the ladder had been on the roof of the building for some 20 to 25 years. The defense disputed the length of time that the ladder had been in the penthouse. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant invited the independent contractor onto the premises and supplied its employee with a defective ladder.

The plaintiff’s physicians testified that the plaintiff sustained compression fractures of the spine at the T-12 and L-1 levels as well as a lumbar disc herniation in the fall. In addition, the plaintiff claimed to have sustained a left meniscus tear necessitating arthroscopic knee surgery. p 7 3 The plaintiff, age 60 at the time of the fall, alleged that he was unable to return to his former employment and was forced to retire early. The plaintiff’s orthopedic surgeon testified that the plaintiff is permanently disabled from employment as a plumber. The plaintiff complained of ongoing back pain and radiculopathy.

The defendant’s liability expert testified that the ladder slipped as a result of being improperly used by the plaintiff.

This expert testified that he performed stability testing, used the ladder in the open position and found it to be functional and safe.

Records showed that, six months before the date of the accident, the plaintiff injured his left knee at work while kneeling on a metal I-beam in the ceiling. He underwent prior knee surgery on the left knee. The plaintiff was discharged from medical care to return to work with no limitations several months before the subject accident.

The jury found the defendant 65% negligent and the plaintiff 35% comparatively negligent. The plaintiffs were awarded $________ in damages, including $________ to the plaintiff’s wife for loss of consortium. The award was reduced to a net recovery of $________.

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