Lewis Brisbois Wins Defense Verdict in Personal Injury Suit
New York Partner Alecia Walters-Hinds recently obtained a defense verdict in a trip and fall suit venued in Kings County Supreme Court.
The plaintiff works as a health aide and was visiting a patient who lived in a Brooklyn building when she tripped and fell over a low hanging chain between two metal posts that were used to prevent vehicles from driving on an emergency pathway on the building’s property. As a result of the accident, the plaintiff fractured her arm and required two surgeries.
The plaintiff claimed that she had never been to that side of the building on previous visits and that it was raining heavily, foggy, and dark at the time of the accident. She noted that the low-hanging chain blended in with the sidewalk and created a trap like condition.
We were successful early in the case in obtaining summary judgment, but an appellate court later found that there was an issue of fact regarding our argument that the condition was open and obvious.
At trial, we questioned the plaintiff extensively regarding how the accident happened and stressed her inconsistencies. The plaintiff’s son also corroborated her version of events.
We argued that we maintained the premises in a reasonable manner and that the chain is not dangerous or actionable. In support of our position, we called our maintenance manager to establish the history of the chain and how it was maintained. He testified that there have been no prior complaints, accidents, or problems with the chain.
One of the difficulties with this case was that the defendants have the same name as the president of the United States, so several prospective jurors had strong views on the issue. As a result, we spent an extensive amount of time obtaining promises from the jury to be fair.
We were also successful in arguing that a special verdict sheet with additional questions was needed for this case. Furthermore, we had the judge take judicial notice that the sun was up at the time of the accident.
After deliberating for less than an hour, the jury returned a unanimous defense verdict. The plaintiff’s counsel moved to set aside the verdict, but the trial court judge denied the motion.
Alecia Walters-Hinds was assisted in the case by Partner Kenneth J. Kim.