Slip and fall in grocery store. $116K. San Diego County.

Summary

Woman falls in grocery store; store's security videos are alleged to be altered to hide the fall.

The Case

  • Case Name: Laura Rojas de Escobedo v. Food 4 Less of California, Inc., et al.
  • Court and Case Number: San Diego Superior Court / 37-2015-00000620-CU-PO-NC
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Thursday, March 03, 2016
  • Date of Settlement: Monday, 21 March 2016
  • Date Action was Filed: Saturday, January 17, 2015
  • Type of Action: Slip and Fall, Spoliation of Evidence
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. William S. Dato
  • Plaintiffs:
    Laura Rojas de Escobedo, 48, home cleaner
  • Defendants:
    Food 4 Less of California, Inc
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $116,541.81
  • Net Verdict or Award: $116,541.81
  • Settlement Amount: $140,000 (Post-judgment settlement)
  • Award as to each Defendant:

    100% on Food 4 Less of California, Inc.

  • Contributory/Comparative Negligence: 0% on Plaintiff; 100% on Defendant
  • Economic Damages:

    Past medical expenses: $66,941.81

    Future medical expenses: $3,600

  • Non-Economic Damages:

    Past non-economic loss: $36,000

    Future non-economic loss: $10,000

  • Punitive Damages:

    $0

  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 3 days.
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 6 hours.
  • Jury Polls: 11-1
  • Post Trial Motions & Post-Verdict Settlements: Motion for CCP 998 interest and costs.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Harris Personal Injury Lawyers by Joshua B. Poulsen, San Diego.

    Harris Personal Injury Lawyers by Ryan D. Harris, San Luis Obispo.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Gibbs & Fuerst by Russell Fuerst, Murrieta.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    Harish Holsalkar, M.D., orthopedic surgery, Vista.

  • Defendant's Medical Expert(s):

    David Smith, M.D., orthopedic surgery, San Diego.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    Plaintiff went into Food 4 Less in Escondido to buy some detergent. She found her detergent on aisle 13, and as she turned to walk to the cash registers her left foot slipped on a piece of fruit that was on the floor. The slip caused plaintiff to do the splits and fall back on her buttocks, back, and head.

    She was evaluated at the scene by paramedics who transported her to the ER for further evaluation. Plaintiff does not speak English, so her ambulance and ER records conflicted due to the language barrier.

    Plaintiff sustained neck, back, head, and knee injuries.

     

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    Plaintiff contended that defendant was negligent in its sweeping of the aisles. Plaintiff also contended that defendant intentionally destroyed/altered the video surveillance footage which would have shown the slip and fall.

    Defendant provided two videos, both of which showed the sweeps. One cut off immediately before the fall, the second cut off 15 minutes before the fall.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    Defendant contended that the sweeps were proper and that two sweeps were completed in the one hour prior to the fall. Defendant also contended that the knee injury was unrelated because plaintiff did not begin treatment for the torn meniscus until several weeks after the fall and did not undergo surgery until almost three years after the fall.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Head injury, neck and back sprain/strain, torn left meniscus

Special Damages

  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Medical: $69,394.34
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Medical: $30,000
  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Lost Earnings: $0
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Lost Earnings: $0

Demands and Offers

  • Plaintiff §998 Demand: $65,000 (served prior to knee surgery in October of 2015).
  • Defendant §998 Offer: $35,000 (served a few weeks before trial).

Additional Notes

Defendant provided a surveillance video which was apparently modified to cut off right before plaintiff fell. The jury did not like that defendant did not provide the full surveillance video and plaintiff contended that they were hiding critical evidence.

There was conflicting testimony among the managers at Food 4 Less on whether they watched video on the day of the accident that included the fall.  The jury did not like the fact video containing the fall was not retained by Food 4 Less given the fact at least one manager testified he saw video which included the fall.

Plaintiff stressed in closing that defendant intentionally altered the evidence and only provided a video that showed the scene from very far away and failed to provide any of the other 96 camera angles that would have shown a better view.

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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