Philadelphia Office Obtains Unanimous Defense Verdict for Global Restaurant Group

Philadelphia, Penn. (August 29, 2019) - Philadelphia Partner Lee J. Janiczek recently obtained a unanimous defense verdict on behalf of our client, a global restaurant group with over 1,000 locations worldwide, after a week-long jury trial in Lehigh County. The case involved a slip-and-fall at one of our client’s restaurants. The plaintiff, who was 38 at the time of the incident in 2016, was out to dinner to celebrate her daughter’s birthday along with her husband and two daughters. She testified that she had gotten up from the table, and while walking through the restaurant, slipped on what she described as an oily, greasy type substance. As a result of slipping, she testified that she fell to the ground, landing on her right elbow, striking her head, and re-injuring her left shoulder. The claim report indicated there was an oily, greasy substance.

Prior to the incident, the plaintiff had undergone three prior shoulder surgeries on her left shoulder following a motor vehicle accident in 2012. As a result of the incident, the plaintiff has since undergone two additional surgeries and is scheduled to undergo a shoulder fusion surgery in September. As a result of the fall, the plaintiff alleges she is no longer able to work as a dental hygienist. In addition, she and her husband have filed for divorce which the plaintiff attributed to the accident. At trial, in addition to various fact witness, the plaintiff’s counsel presented the testimony of her orthopedic surgeon, who is the head of the Rothman Group’s Shoulder Surgery division. The plaintiff also presented the testimony of a vocational expert who testified that the plaintiff’s post-incident wage loss claim and future wage loss/loss of earning capacity claim was in the high six-figures.

As part of the defense of the case, in addition to testimony offered by the restaurant’s manager as well the bartender working on the night of the incident, expert testimony was presented by an orthopedic surgeon who is the head of Premier Orthopedics shoulder surgery practice, as well as a vocational expert. The defense of the case was based, in part, on a challenge to liability on the basis that there was no evidence to establish notice to the restaurant, as well as a challenge to the amount of recoverable damages. In contrast, plaintiff’s counsel argued that the evidence revealed the restaurant had created the condition due to the location and description of the alleged substance.

Prior to the start of trial, plaintiff’s counsel had demanded $2 million to resolve the case. During the course of trial, as a result of some settlement discussions, the plaintiff lowered their demand to the high six-figures. After approximately one hour of deliberations, the jury returned their verdict in favor of our client. Neither post-trial motions nor an appeal were filed. Associate Carmalena Del Pizzo and Partner Gregory Hurchalla assisted Lee with the various pre-trial motions and submission in the case.

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