May 26, 2010

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

Premises Liability

Edward C. Prieto


Khanal Robin

ORLANDO, Fla. ─ Quintairos, Prieto, Wood & Boyer, P.A. (QPWB) partners Edward C. Prieto and Robin N. Khanal obtained a defense verdict on behalf of their client, a condominium association. The plaintiff, a guest at the building, allegedly tripped and fell on wood that was lying near a staircase leading down to the common areas of the premises. The plaintiff fractured his foot requiring open reduction and internal fixation with hardware and subsequent therapy. Only one month later, the 18-year-old plaintiff required a second surgery due to the severity of his injuries.
At the time of the incident, the condominium complex was undergoing major hurricane renovations lasting approximately two years. At times there were approximately five different contractors onsite involved in the various phases of the remediation project. Also during this time, individual unit owners engaged in unpermitted work within their units; oftentimes, being conducted at night and during the weekends.
The evidence at trial was that the unit owners were using the building’s trash shoot to dispose of their construction and remodeling debris, causing frequent clogs in the trash shoot. Also, that the condominium association had but one maintenance man employed who was responsible for keeping the premises safe and secured during this major project. His hours were typically from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
The plaintiff alleged that as a result of negligent maintenance, wood debris was allowed to remain near the stairs, causing a dangerous condition. At approximately 11:00 p.m., the plaintiff claimed he tripped over the wood and that his brother and friends were with him and helped him to the hospital. The following morning, the brother returned to the condominium to take pictures of the wood and those photos were admitted into evidence.
Through his treating orthopedic, the plaintiff also introduced evidence showing that additional future surgery would be required to treat necrotic bone and the migration of the joints and bones. In closing, the plaintiff asked the jury for several hundred thousand dollars to cover past and future medical expenses as well as pain and suffering.
Adamant that the plaintiff had fabricated the incident and that his injuries were the result of his own negligence; through discovery, the defense took the depositions of the plaintiff’s brother and of his friends, all of whom were present when the plaintiff tripped and fell. Their accounts of the incident were completely inconsistent. The jury was also told that the plaintiff never once mentioned tripping over wood during his weeklong hospitalization and it was first mentioned in the notes of the orthopedic that he selected one month after the incident. The jury deliberated for less than one hour before returning a complete defense verdict.
About QPWB
Quintairos, Prieto, Wood & Boyer, P.A., is a full-service business law firm with more than 100 attorneys collaborating across major practice areas in seven offices located throughout Florida, including Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville and Tallahassee. QPWB provides comprehensive legal services to individuals and organizations of all sizes in local, state, national and international matters.

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