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Premises Liability - Slip and fall on polished granite floor in men's room - Burst fracture of the lumbar spine.

Orange County, California

The 63-year-old male plaintiff brought this action against the defendant hotel for injuries suffered in a slip and fall accident which occurred in the defendant’s rest room. The plaintiff contended that the hotel created a dangerous condition by installing polished granite in the flooring of the public restaurant.

The evidence indicated that the plaintiff had just finished lunch at Lael’s restaurant on the first floor of the hotel. He walked out of the restaurant to use the men’s rest room. He testified that he used the urinal and walked over to the sink to and washed his hands, following which he took several steps toward the towel dispenser and slipped and fell, landing on his back. The plaintiff testified that after the fall, he noticed a large amount of water on the floor and that his left pant leg was wet.

The plaintiff stated that he felt his pant leg with his hand and then smelled his hand. He stated that his hand smelled and felt like it was coated with soapy water after touching his wet pant leg.

The plaintiff contended that the hotel created and/or maintained a dangerous condition in the men’s rest room where the plaintiff fell. The plaintiff claimed that the floor was dangerously slippery when wet with water or wet with soapy water.

The plaintiff alleged that the hotel had notice of water being spilled on the floor. The plaintiff called two witnesses who testified that they had seen water spilled on the floor of the rest room before the plaintiff’s fall. These witnesses also stated that they had seen the water several times and had made it a point to notify the hotel personnel of the problem.

The plaintiff contended that the hotel should have taken other measures to ensure patron safety, such as putting mats down. The plaintiff’s slip and fall expert testified that the polished granite was an unsuitable flooring for a public rest room of a hotel. He stated that the co-efficient of friction when the floor was wet was .40 and when wet with soapy water was .28.

The plaintiff’s treating neurosurgeon testified that the plaintiff suffered a burst fracture of the lumbar spine at L1, requiring lumbar fusion surgery with pedicle screws and rods placed at the fracture site to stabilize the spine. The plaintiff claimed past out-of-pocket expenses of $________. The plaintiff contended that he continues to experience chronic pain in his low back.

The defendant denied that the floor material in-and-of itself constituted a dangerous condition and denied notice of the water on the floor. The defendant’s slip and fall expert opined that polished granite flooring is a suitable flooring surface for this use. The defendant denied notice or prior complaints of the floor being slippery prior to the subject accident. The defendant maintained that it had an above average inspection program in place at the time of the subject accident, conducted through its lobby porter who inspects it every 30 minutes. The defendant contended that its inspection program exceeds the industry standards of one hour. The hotel’s manager and security director were paged at the time of the incident and upon presenting to the rest room following the fall, saw no water on the floor with the exception of four to five droplets. The paramedics arrived within five to 10 minutes after the fall. One paramedic testified that he saw no water on the floor while he was attending to the plaintiff and that he did not find the floor to be slippery.

The jury found for the defendant.

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