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Jury Awards Plaintiff Only Past Medical Expenses in a Stipulated Liability Case

Apr 17, 2016 - About the Firm by

(MEDIA, PA. February 17, 2016) MSZL&M Partner Larry Kelly successfully convinced a Delaware County, PA jury that the plaintiff was not entitled to any award for pain and suffering or future medical expenses in the case of Christopher Kerns v. Chester Downs. Surveillance video confirmed plaintiff slipped, but did not fall, exiting defendant’s casino. The investigation revealed that the plaintiff had just stepped off a recently shampooed carpet that was still damp, onto the adjacent tile floor where he slipped. The casino employees had removed the “wet floor” signs from the area believing that the carpet was already completely dry. Liability was stipulated and the matter was tried on damages only.

Plaintiff testified that significant aspects of his life had been altered as a result of the event, and that he had difficulty with even the most basic household chores. The injuries allegedly sustained included a torn ACL in his knee along with a lumbar bulge, both of which will require surgery in the future according to plaintiff’s testifying physician. At trial, the plaintiff testified, over objection, that he could not undergo the surgeries because he did not have the money to pay for them. The defendant’s testifying orthopedic surgeon disagreed that future medical treatment is necessary, including the planned surgeries.

The casino surveillance video showed plaintiff acting and walking normally immediately after the slip, then returning into the casino a short time later with a very noticeable limp as he went to report the incident. Based on plaintiff’s post-accident activity level during the subsequent months, including numerous trips to casinos in different states, the jury was provided with ample evidence to show there was no deviation from plaintiff’s pre-accident lifestyle.

After deliberating several hours, the jury rejected any award for pain and suffering or future medical treatment, instead only awarding plaintiff his past medical bills.

Rather than appeal, plaintiff settled for the amount of the past medical bills plus a nominal additional amount, which was significantly lower than defendant’s final settlement offer.