Amy J. v. 99 Ranch Market

$1,077,063 Jury Verdict: Unsafe Premises – Slip & Fall
Alameda County

Plaintiff was a 67 year old woman who was a retired travel agent, and was shopping inside the 99 Ranch Market in Dublin when she slipped and fell on an unknown liquid on the floor.  The store claimed that it complied with the industry standards by performing visual inspections of its entire sales floor every thirty minutes on the day of the incident, and had sweep logs which indicated that the area where Plaintiff fell was inspected just 10 minutes before her fall.  Plaintiff contended that only one janitor was responsible for inspecting the entire store in the thirty minutes before the fall, that she was not the person who signed the sweep logs, and even if she had inspected the area, visual inspections were not sufficient.  Plaintiff’s store safety expert tested the flooring material with a friction testing machine, and found that the flooring material that the store selected was excessively slippery and not appropriate for a grocery store.  Mr. Tomasik was able to elicit numerous inconsistencies in the deposition testimony of Defendant’s employees.

Plaintiff sustained a right femoral head fracture in her right hip, and underwent reconstructive surgery with metal hardware implantation.  Plaintiff initially had a good recovery from that surgery, but later developed necrosis in her right hip.  Defendant disputed that the necrosis was related to Plaintiff’s injuries from the incident. Plaintiff underwent a total right hip replacement surgery, and while the surgery improved her symptoms, at the time of trial she was still recovering.  Plaintiff’s major passion was dancing and she enjoyed tap dancing, Chinese Folk dancing, Hawaiian hula dancing, belly dancing, jazz and line dancing at least 4-5 times per week immediately before her fall.  The surgeon who performed the hip replacement surgery testified that he hoped that Plaintiff would be able to return to her previous level of dancing, but it was unclear if she would, and she might need another hip replacement surgery.  Plaintiff also had extensive scarring on her right thigh from both surgeries.

Following an 11 day trial, the jury found that Welcome Market. Inc. was negligent in the maintenance or use of the property, that their negligence was a substantial factor in causing harm to Plaintiff, and that Plaintiff was not at fault for her fall.  The jury awarded Plaintiff $227,063 for her past medical bills, $450,000 for her past non-economic loss, $150,000 for her future medical bills, and $250,000 for her future non-economic loss, for a total verdict of $1,077,063.

Several jurors indicated to counsel after trial that they wanted to award “more – far more” to that plaintiff. The mother of a juror died just as deliberations were commencing, but she refused to be replaced by an alternate juror and she participated in deliberations.  The Court indicated that this was the first verdict in favor of a plaintiff in their department in the first six months of that year. (July, 2011)