August 2, 2007

Contact: Eric W. Boyer, Esq.
Managing Partner
305-670-1101 Ext. 1023


Peter J. Molinelli

PALM BEACH, FL – Quintairos, Prieto, Wood & Boyer, P.A., trial attorney Peter J. Molinelli, managing partner of the Tampa office, obtained a complete defense verdict in a premises liability matter on behalf of Mediplex Management of Palm Beach County d/b/a Sunbridge Care and Rehab for the Palm Beaches.
On April 28, 2003, the Plaintiff, Cynthia Benjamin, during a visit to her brother at the facility, fell to the ground when a plastic chair broke as she attempted to sit. She notified the staff of her fall and requested a complete incident report. The report, submitted to the Plaintiff that same day, documented the Plaintiff’s complaint of pain and swelling of the left wrist. Facility staff members supplied ice for the swelling; thereafter, the Plaintiff left the facility without further medical care. That day the Plaintiff drove herself to the emergency room complaining of leg, back, and wrist pain. X-rays of her back showed no fractures.
Within days of the incident, the Plaintiff hired counsel and began treatment with a chiropractor, and an orthopedic surgeon. Ultimately, she underwent an arthroscopic surgery of the left knee that entailed partially removing the medial meniscus due to two separate tears. The surgeon also performed a chrondroplasty of both the femoral and tibial leg bones to remove rough edges created by a degenerative condition known as chrondromalacia. Plaintiff’s surgeon testified that the tears of the meniscus were probably the result of the fall at the defendant’s facility.
After more than a year, Plaintiff’s counsel served the lawsuit; thereafter, it remained in litigation for nearly four years before setting it for trial. During which time, no attempts were made to request or inspect the subject chair. After the case was set for trial, mediation was held and impassed. Within two weeks, the Plaintiff retained new counsel and began treatment with a new orthopedic surgeon; who – after three examinations during office visits – testified during the trial that the Plaintiff would need to undergo a multitude of knee and back surgeries, including a knee replacement and a spinal fusion, totaling approximately $775,000. Several other treating physicians testified that the Plaintiff did not need spinal surgery currently, and future knee surgeries may or may not be necessary.
Plaintiff’s counsel filed several motions seeking summary judgment on both liability and causation, as well as sanctions for discarding the chair. Discovery conducted a few weeks before the trial revealed that the subject chair, most likely discarded, could not be located. The Court issued both, a Res Ipsa and an Adverse Inference instruction to the jury, which permitted the inference that the subject chair was negligently maintained because it was not retained. Plaintiff requested $1,000,000 in damages during closing argument.
The Jury returned a complete defense verdict after approximately 26 minutes of deliberation on the third day of trial.
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Quintairos, Prieto, Wood & Boyer, P.A., is a civil defense firm with a wide variety of litigation services for healthcare companies, healthcare facilities, physicians and other healthcare licensed professionals and their insurers. The firm’s Litigation Department also provides general liability defense for all businesses, insureds and insurance companies. Our practice groups and industry-based teams ensure clients have access to attorneys with the best expertise, regardless of location. QPWB maintains a tightly integrated network of seven fully staffed offices, six in Florida and one in Mississippi with attorneys licensed in several states.

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