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Verdicts & Settlements

February 4, 2003

The Daily Journal

L.A. Superior San Fernando , Dept. D
HON Barbara M. Scheper

Topic: Personal Injury
Sub topic: Premises Liability
Sub-sub topic: Negligent Maintenance

SUMMARY JUDGMENT: Granted in favor of the defense

Plaintiff - Irwin R. Miller, Law Offices of Irwin R. Miller, Oxnard
Defendant - Guy R. Gruppie, Murchison & Cumming, Los Angeles
Defendant - Catherine B. Kim, Murchison & Cumming, Los Angeles
Defendant - Michael J. Nunez, Murchison & Cumming, Los Angeles

Technical Experts:
Plaintiff - Marc A. Firestone Ph.D., forensic engineer, Los Angeles

Facts: The plaintiff, Gloria Thompson, 68, tripped and fell over a blue concrete tire stop as she exited from her doctor's office and sustained fracture injuries which required multiple surgical procedures to her arm. The plaintiff and her husband brought a cause of action for premises liability against the defendant landlord. On the date of the accident, the plaintiff was visiting the offices of the plaintiff's primary care physician. Both plaintiffs had been to his office multiple times prior to the accident and had entered and exited through the door where the plaintiff exited immediately before her fall. The plaintiff testified that she had seen the blue tire stop as she entered the doctor's office and later, as she had exited. Her intention was to walk in a marked walkway between blue tire stops that were in front of the door. The plaintiff's deposition testimony revealed that both plaintiffs were clearly aware of the presence of the tire stop before the accident and admitted that the tire stop was open and obvious. The plaintiff also admitted that just before she fell, her attention was diverted to a car backing out of one of the parking spaces and she took her eyes away from her pathway.

Contentions: The plaintiffs alleged that the defendant negligently owned, maintained, managed and operated the premises where the incident occurred. The plaintiffs alleged that the blue tire stop located at the head of a handicapped parking space upon which the plaintiff fell was a dangerous condition. The defendant sought an order for summary judgment on the grounds that it owed no duty to the plaintiffs to warn of an obvious condition. A property owner is not liable for an injury to an invitee resulting from a danger which was obvious or should have been observed in the exercise of reasonable care, and is entitled to assume that an invitee will perceive that which would be obvious to her, such as dangerous condition, upon the ordinary use of her own senses. Additionally, there was no practical necessity for the plaintiff to have walked over/into the tire stop as opposed to using the adjacent designated walkway.

Injuries: The plaintiff Gloria Thompson suffered a comminuted fracture to her left arm and elbow that required three separate surgical procedures during the following year. She continued to have ongoing complaints during the pendency of this action along with worsening of pre-existing medical problem. Her medical specials approximated $70,000 and were continuing to accrue.

Other Information: In exchange for a waiver of costs by the defendant, the plaintiffs have waived all appellate rights.