Defense verdict in slip and fall at apartment complex. Los Angeles County.
Tenant falls on icy sidewalk in Palmdale apartment community.
- Case Name: Norberto Guadalupe Uriarte Aviles v. Villa Sierra Apartments, et al.
- Court and Case Number: Los Angeles County Superior Court / MC 026768
- Date of Verdict or Judgment: Friday, March 15, 2019
- Date Action was Filed: Monday, December 12, 2016
- Type of Action: Premises Liability, Slip and Fall
- Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Brian C. Yep
- Plaintiffs: Norberto Guadalupe Uriarte Aviles, 34.
- Defendants: 37925-45 30th Street East, LLCAnza Management Company
- Type of Result: Jury Verdict
- Gross Verdict or Award: Defense verdict for both defendants.
- Net Verdict or Award: $0
- Settlement Amount: .
- Award as to each Defendant:
- Contributory/Comparative Negligence: None.
- Trial or Arbitration Time: 6 days.
- Jury Deliberation Time: 1 hour, 27 minutes.
- Jury Polls: 12-0
- Post Trial Motions & Post-Verdict Settlements: Defendants will file cost bills for monetary judgments against the plaintiff.
- Attorney for the Plaintiff:
George Bilal, Glendale.
- Attorney for the Defendant:
J.K. Residential Services, Inc. by Garth M. Drozin, Los Angeles.
The Cameron Law Firm by Clayton T. Lee, Los Angeles.
- Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):
William B. Stetson, M.D., orthopedic surgery, Burbank.
- Defendant's Medical Expert(s):
- Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):
- Defendant's Technical Expert(s):
John Tyson, safety engineering, Encino.
Facts and Background
- Facts and Background:
According to plaintiff’s Complaint : “On January 3, 2015 at approximately 10:00 a.m., Plaintiff was walking to the Defendant’s management office (in Palmdale) to pay the rent. The (irrigation) sprinklers caused the cemented walkway to become extremely wet and freeze. While walking on the cemented walkway, Plaintiff slipped on the frozen walkway and fell forward, landing on his right shoulder with his face partially in the grass. … [D]efendants breach [their] duty by failing to maintain the sprinklers and walkway.”
There was no allegation of when that condition was created. Plaintiff was a tenant in Apartment A110.
Plaintiff did not visit any healthcare provider until five days after he fell, and worked, full-time, in the interim.
- Plaintiff's Contentions:
That the apartment community owner and its property manager were negligent in failing to properly maintain the courtyard sprinkler system outside plaintiff’s apartment, in allowing watering at sub-freezing temperatures and not regularly taking precautions to remedy or warn of the icy conditions; that defendants had prior knowledge of ice patches on the concrete walkways in the community that created a dangerous condition and was the cause of plaintiff’s slip and fall incident.
- Defendant's Contentions:
That all evidence showed that the last time the courtyard sprinklers were in operation was three days before plaintiff fell; that the water that became ice could not have come from the sprinklers; that both defendants took more than adequate steps to salt the walkways as soon as they had notice of icy patches, and that plaintiff fell because he did not pay adequate attention to where he was going; that he was running, in flip-flops, in sub-freezing temperatures, in a community that he knew would be likely to contain icy patches, causing his own slip and fall incident.
That the property manager instructed the custodian, immediately upon her arrival on the job on that day, to apply rock salt to the walkways, having seen patches of ice, as there frequently were in Palmdale. Salt takes some time to melt ice. In fact, the custodian was about to begin the process of salting the icy patches in walkways, which ran over one thousand linear feet, when plaintiff fell. The resident maintenance technician who resided in the apartment directly over that occupied by the plaintiff was not working on that Saturday morning. He saw the plaintiff exit his apartment and run several steps along the walkway, wearing “flip-flops,” shorts and a t-shirt, and then fall as plaintiff attempted to round a corner, then get up and walk to and from the management office. It was broad daylight. The icy surface was plainly visible.
Defendants contended they took more than customary, reasonable steps to warn and protect residents there, according to the industry standards in Palmdale.
Injuries and Other Damages
- Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:
Plaintiff sustained a fractured shoulder humerus, nerve damage to C4-C6 in his cervical spine, numbness in his fingers, and pain to his ribs and knee. Plaintiff black-boarded $24,606.92 in special (medical) damages and alleged that he suffered emotional distress, pain, and suffering, by virtue of his injuries, as well as unquantified future healthcare expenses, as he was still unable to raise his right arm above his shoulder.
- Special Damages Claimed - Past Medical: $24,606.92
- Special Damages Claimed - Future Medical: Undetermined.
Demands and Offers
- Plaintiff §998 Demand: $35,000
- Defendant §998 Offer: $5,000 jointly.