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$________ Premises liability - Trip and fall at hospital - Dangerous step from cafeteria to patio - Inadequate warning sign - Aggravation of preexisting condition of knee arthritis - Total knee replacement surgery performed.

Philadelphia County

The plaintiff claimed that he tripped and fell at the defendant hospital as a result of a dangerous step from the cafeteria to the patio, which lacked adequate warnings. The defendant argued that the condition was not dangerous and disputed the injuries which the plaintiff claimed to have sustained as a result of the fall.

The plaintiff was a 62-year-old man who was at the defendant hospital for a stress test on June 10, ________. He was instructed to have lunch and return to the diagnostic area. The plaintiff went to the defendant’s cafeteria and was walking from the cafeteria to an outside patio when he tripped and fell down a single step.

The plaintiff’s human factors expert testified that a sign posted on the patio door to "Watch Your Step" could not have been seen by the plaintiff because another person was holding the door open for the plaintiff at the time and was standing in front of the sign. The plaintiff’s human factors expert also opined that it was foreseeable that a person would hold the patio door open for another person and, thus, obscure the warning sign. In addition, this expert testified that the building code is a minimum standard and that there is a heightened standard of safety for hospitals, where many patrons could be expected to have difficulty ambulating.

The plaintiff’s orthopedic surgeon testified that the plaintiff sustained an aggravation of a preexisting arthritic condition in his left knee as a result of the fall. The plaintiff underwent a total knee replacement approximately two and a-half years after the fall. The plaintiff’s orthopedic surgeon testified that the necessity for the plaintiff’s knee replacement was caused by the fall.

The defendant’s biomechanical engineer opined that the warning sign posted on the defendant’s patio door was adequate. The defendant’s architect testified that the patio step met all code requirements and was not dangerous. The defendant’s orthopedic surgeon opined that the plaintiff’s left knee condition was preexisting and that he would have required knee replacement surgery regardless of the subject fall. Evidence showed that the plaintiff had undergone surgery to repair a meniscus tear of the left knee a year before the accident.

The jury found the defendant ________% negligent and awarded the plaintiff $________ in damages. The defendant offered $________ to settle the case and then withdrew the offer during trial. The case is currently on appeal.

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