Recent Premises Liability Jury Verdicts – good and bad

stone-judge-1219357[1]In my opinion, one of the best ways to analyze case value is to monitor jury verdict reports. A few verdicts have been reported recently that are worth noting – for better or for worse:

Great Results

In January, 2016 a premises liability case went to trial in the 5th Municipal District of Cook County.  The plaintiff claimed she slipped and fell in water near a floral display.  She claimed a torn meniscus which required surgery, injections and physical therapy.  The plaintiff argued there were no warning signs and there should have been floor mats to prevent falls.  The defense argued the plaintiff was aware of the water on the floor because she purchased flowers at the store twice a week and she was at fault for failing to observe the water.  The jury ruled in favor of the defense.

This is a great result and one to make a note of because this is the type of case many retailers will settle quickly. The public knows there tends to be drops of water on the floor near floral displays and this verdict shows they are not willing to punish a retailer every time if occurs. 

In April, 2015 a premises liability case went to trial in Will County. A senior claimed he tripped and fell on carpeting in a hospital lobby, causing a rotator cuff tear and soft tissue injury.  The plaintiff claimed the fall was caused by changes in the texture of the carpet and a confusing color scheme.  The defense argued there were no defects.  The jury ruled in favor of the defendants.

This is a good example of a case that absolutely should have been disposed of by the court at the summary judgment stage. Unfortunately, that does not happen too often in Will County.  It is worth going to trial in Will County because even though summary judgment is rare, the juries are very logical and tend to rule for the defendant when warranted.

In December, 2015 a premises liability case went to trial in Cook County. The plaintiff claimed she fell in a roller skating rink due to unsafe floors.  The plaintiff was a very experienced skater and fell just after she started skating backwards.  The plaintiff’s companions found a foreign object on the floor after the fall and the plaintiff claimed it was a wall bracket that fell.  The jury ruled in favor of the defendant.

Not So Great Results

In January, 2016 a premises liability case went to trial in Cook County involving a customer slipping and falling inside an automobile dealership as he walked to the parts department. The showroom was undergoing renovations.  The plaintiff slipped in a clear liquid on the floor, but he did not fall.  The plaintiff claimed that as a result of the slip, he sustained a meniscal tear requiring surgery, a herniated cervical disc requiring a cervical fusion and permanent pain in his neck and knee.  An employee was with the plaintiff at the time of the incident and he did not see any substance on the floor before or after the incident.  The jury ruled in favor of the plaintiff and awarded him $400,383, with $97,893 in medical specials.  The jury only found the plaintiff 5% at fault, despite the fact that the plaintiff admitted to being 10-15% at fault.

In November, 2015 a premises liability case went to trial in Cook County in which a restaurant customer was injured after a ceiling fixture fell onto her head. The plaintiff claimed a spinal fracture, soft tissue injuries and emotional distress with $170,000 in medical specials and a lost wage claim of $254,000 – $381,000.  The defense denied liability and claimed the plaintiff’s injuries were pre-existing.  The jury found for the plaintiff and awarded her $691,500.

In October, 2015 a premises security case went to trial in Cook County and it involved a customer of a retail store having some problems with a return. The plaintiff claimed three security officers followed him to his car and beat him with excessive force while he was restrained in handcuffs.  The plaintiff was ultimately arrested but the charges were later dismissed.  The alleged injury was not provided but the plaintiff claimed $30,000 in past medical specials, $77,000 in future medical specials and $70,000 in lost wages.  The plaintiff sued the retailer and the security company.  The jury awarded the plaintiff $150,000 for the malicious prosecution claim, $50,000 for false imprisonment and found the defendants not guilty of battery.

Thanks to Jury Verdict Reporter, a Division of Law Bulletin Company for the reports. If you are not receiving these, I highly recommend you sign up.  (