$995,000: Beach Vacation Turns Into Family’s Worst Nightmare

CASE DESCRIPTION: Plaintiff Donald S was ascending stairs while unloading his car on his family’s first day at a vacation rental when he lost his balance and grabbed for the stairway railing, which gave way, causing him to fall approximately 10 feet onto his head.  His wife, Shari S, brought an action for loss of consortium.  His daughter, Katie S, who witnessed the fall, brought an action for negligent infliction of emotional distress.

RESULT:  $995,000 (Mediated by Jay Horton)

PLAINTIFFS’ CONTENTIONS: Plaintiffs contended that the defendant failed to adequately maintain the stairway.  Plaintiffs also contended that the defective railway was an unsafe, concealed condition, and that Defendant knew, or should have known, of its deteriorated condition.  Plaintiffs further contended that the stairway failed to comply with applicable building codes that required the railing to withstand a load of 200 pounds.

DEFENDANT’S CONTENTIONS: Defendant claimed that she had no notice of the condition of the stairway railing, and that by Plaintiffs’ own admissions, the stairway railing did not feel loose or otherwise defective on Plaintiffs’ previous trips up the stairway.  Defendant also disputed Plaintiff Donald S’s injuries, noting that he had been drinking alcohol prior to the fall, and that he had pre-existing Multiple Sclerosis, which, due to the nature of disease, would have ultimately caused many of the same symptoms which Plaintiff alleged were caused by the incident.

TYPE OF CASE: Premises Liability

INJURIES: Donald S suffered a left parietal skull fracture, occult basilar skull fracture, bilateral subarachnoid hemorrhage, bilateral subdural hematomas, bilateral temporal lobe hemorrhagic contusions, loss of smell, and loss of taste.

DATE & LOCATION OF INCIDENT: April 3, 2006 at approximately 5:45 p.m., Newport Beach, California

PLAINTIFF’S AGE: Donald S – 55
Shari S –    43
Katie S  –    8

OCCUPATION: Coordinator

Casey R. Johnson, Esq.

Juan C. Delgado, Esq.