After fall, safety of step at commercial building entrance is disputed. Defense verdict. San Diego County.

Summary

Man trips and falls over single step at office building he's been at many times before, claims step was not well marked.

The Case

  • Case Name: Laimon v. Georges
  • Court and Case Number: San Diego Superior Court / 37-2014-0037-2014-00028028 028028
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Friday, November 20, 2015
  • Date Action was Filed: Wednesday, August 20, 2014
  • Type of Action: Dangerous Condition Private Property, Negligence, Premises Liability
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. John S. Meyer
  • Plaintiffs:
    Dan Laimon, 52, asset manager
  • Defendants:
    Antoine Georges
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: Defense verdict.
  • Award as to each Defendant:

    $0

  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 4 days
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 3 hours
  • Jury Polls: 12-0
  • Post Trial Motions & Post-Verdict Settlements: Defendant will be filing their cost bill as the prevailing party.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Gomez Trial Attorneys by Bibianne Fell and Ben Coughlan, San Diego.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Austin Brownwood Cannon & Santa Cruz by Sylvia S. Aceves, San Diego.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    Christian Bentley, M.D., orthopedic surgery, Encinitas.

  • Defendant's Medical Expert(s):

    Richard Greenfield, M.D., orthopedic surgery, San Diego.

  • Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):

    Brad Avrit, P.E., safety engineering, Marina del Rey.

  • Defendant's Technical Expert(s):

    Pete Zande, CSP, premises safety, Lake Forest.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    On May 3, 2014, plaintiff Daniel Laimon went to an appointment with a tenant in the commercial office building owned by defendants Carole and Antoine Georges. Plaintiff testified that he has been visiting the tenant,  Dermatex, at this location once every 3 weeks for approximately 10 years.

    However, he claimed he had never been on the left side of the building prior to the accident. When plaintiff arrived at the building, he found that the elevator in the building was not working. The parties stipulated that the day of the accident was the first time that the elevators were not working. Handwritten signs pointed him in opposite directions to find stairs outside. He found the signs to be "confusing."

    He testified he was not sure which way to go and exited to the left side of the building, which is the opposite side of where Dermatex is located. As Plaintiff walked down the hallway on the right side of the building, he approached the glass doors to exit the building. As he exited the glass doors, he stumbled on a single unmarked step because he did not see it and tripped on the curb.

    The right side of plaintiff's body hit the asphalt in the parking lot. Plaintiff continued on to his appointment and told an employee at Dermatex that he had fallen on the steps outside the building. She testified she could see he was in apparent discomfort throughout his appointment.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    Plaintiff contended that the defendant should have done something to make the step more visible, for example, place a paint strip of contrasting color and/or install a handrail, both at minimal cost.

    Plaintiff also contended that the step did not comply with the Uniform Building Code because defendant is required to maintain his property in a safe condition.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    Defendant contended that there was no code violation with respect to the step, the landing or the door. That there had been no complaints or other known falls on the step. Further, that plaintiff failed to maintain a proper lookout and may have had vision problems on the date of the accident.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Shattered humeral head. Plaintiff had two surgeries prior to trial, including a reverse total shoulder replacement. Plaintiff contended that he will need a shoulder replacement revision surgery every 10 years for the rest of his life.

Special Damages

  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Medical: $176,000
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Medical: $280,000
  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Lost Earnings: $0
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Lost Earnings: $0

Demands and Offers

  • Plaintiff §998 Demand: $999,999
  • Defendant §998 Offer: $75,000

Additional Notes

Plaintiff's counsel asked for $1.5 million in closing. The verdict was 12-0 that there was no negligence by the defendant.

Disclaimer

This is not an official court document. While the publisher believes the information to be accurate, the publisher does not guarantee it and the reader is advised not to rely upon it without consulting the official court documents or the attorneys of record in this matter who are listed above.

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