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$________ GROSS Trip and fall in hole on hospital property - Negligent construction - Patella fracture with surgery - 20% comparative negligence found.

Miami-Dade County

The male plaintiff was a 75-year-old who claimed that he was walking back to his vehicle after exiting the defendant hospital when he tripped and fell as a result of a hole located next to the parking lot. The construction company, which was performing major renovation at the hospital at the time, was also named as a defendant in the case. The defendants denied that there was a hole in the area adjacent to the parking lot and argued that the area had been barricaded off with orange mesh fencing.

The plaintiff testified that he visited his sister, who was a patient at the defendant hospital, and was walking back to his vehicle in the hospital parking lot. The plaintiff claimed that he was caused to trip and fall as a result of a hole in the ground in the swale adjacent to the parking lot. The plaintiff claimed he could not see the hole because it was raining at the time. The plaintiff also testified he did not see any barricades nor warnings signs in the area.

The plaintiff played the videotaped testimony of his treating physician as well as an orthopedic surgeon retained by the defendant (IME). The IME physician concurred that the plaintiff sustained a patella fracture requiring open reduction and internal fixation of the knee as a result of the fall. He opined that the plaintiff had made a good recovery from the fracture, but has been left with a 10% permanent impairment. The plaintiff walked with the assistance of a cane at trial.

The defendants contended that the swale area had been recently smoothed by landscapers in preparation for laying sod and was free from holes. The defense introduced aerial photographs taken the day before the plaintiff’s fall. The photos showed an orange mesh fencing in the area.

The jury found the defendant hospital 10% negligent, the defendant construction company 70% negligent and the plaintiff 20% comparatively negligent. The plaintiff was awarded $________ in damages which was reduced accordingly. Indemnity issues between the defendant hospital and construction company are pending.

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