Ohio Case Ends in Unanimous $1.3 Million Premises Liability Verdict

Jury deliberations in a Cuyahoga County, Ohio premises liability case ended recently with a unanimous decision to award $1.3 million to an injured plaintiff.

Woman wearing orthopedic knee brace

ByDani Alexis Ryskamp, J.D.

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Published on April 2, 2024

Woman wearing orthopedic knee brace

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff slipped and fell on an unmarked wet floor at Mr. Hero, a sandwich shop in Brookpark, Ohio. The impact of the fall caused her kneecap to shatter into over half a dozen pieces.

The plaintiff underwent two surgeries in an attempt to repair the shattered kneecap and restore function. She wore a knee immobilizer for ten weeks, which had a significant impact on her ability to handle the routine tasks of daily life. Following the accident and injury, the plaintiff suffers from post-traumatic arthritis. Doctors predict she will require total knee replacement surgery in the future.

Further compounding issues for the plaintiff was the fact that she is also the caretaker for her husband, who has terminal cancer. The damage to the plaintiff’s knee and the weeks of surgeries and immobilization that followed the fall significantly hindered the plaintiff’s ability to care for her husband, which negatively affected them both.

The $1.3 Million Verdict

The verdict comes at the end of over three years of fighting for the defendant sandwich shop to take responsibility for its actions. The restaurant spent nearly three years denying that there was any water on the floor for the plaintiff to slip on, according to attorneys Katie Harris and Scott Perlmuter of Tittle & Perlmuter, who represented the plaintiff.

The verdict accounts for the plaintiff’s past surgeries and medical care, as well as for the need for a total knee replacement surgery in the future. It also seeks to compensate the plaintiff for her inability to care for her husband and for other losses associated with the injury.

Takeaways for Attorneys

In this case, the defendant, Mr. Hero, spent several years claiming it was not at fault because there was no water on the floor - and thus its employees had not caused the plaintiff’s injuries. It wouldn’t matter if there were no “wet floor” signs, the defendant reasoned, if there was no wetness on the floor to trigger the plaintiff’s fall in the first place.

The plaintiff’s attorneys, however, saw the situation differently. “We believed our client and fought for her from the moment we met her,” said attorney Katie Harris.

The plaintiff and her attorneys could have stuck to the bare facts of the case. Instead, they went a step further. They saw that the defendants’ approach to the narrative could be interpreted as an underhanded attempt to bend the facts in order to deflect blame, and they presented the case to the jury accordingly. In so doing, they shed light on what their client had been through, humanizing her suffering and clarifying to the defendant and other similarly situated parties that juries are willing to see through denial to help those who are injured through no fault of their own.

The plaintiff’s attorneys also reached beyond the facts of the injury itself to focus on its impact - not only on their client but on the entire household. The plaintiff’s role as her husband’s caretaker is an essential one.

According to a study by the National Institutes of Health, the burden of caring for those with terminal cancer often falls on family members. This work is often unpaid and unacknowledged. The study found that caregivers of terminal cancer patients are more likely to be women, often of advancing age themselves, who live with the family member for whom they provide care.

These family members provide an essential service and support to their loved ones. The work can be difficult for everyone involved. Although many family members caring for a terminally ill loved one wouldn’t have it any other way, their effort deserves acknowledgment. Here, the plaintiff and her attorneys worked together to ensure the jury understood and acknowledged the importance of this care - and the losses suffered when the plaintiff couldn’t help her husband with his needs.

About the author

Dani Alexis Ryskamp, J.D.

Dani Alexis Ryskamp, J.D.

Dani Alexis Ryskamp, J.D., is a multifaceted legal professional with a background in insurance defense, personal injury, and medical malpractice law. She has garnered valuable experience through internships in criminal defense, enhancing her understanding of various legal sectors.

A key part of her legal journey includes serving as the Executive Note Editor of the Michigan Telecommunications and Technology Law Review. Dani graduated with a J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School in 2007, after completing her B.A. in English, summa cum laude, in 2004. She is a member of the Michigan State Bar and the American Bar Association, reflecting her deep commitment to the legal profession.

Currently, Dani Alexis has channeled her legal expertise into a successful career as a freelance writer and book critic, primarily focusing on the legal and literary markets. Her writing portfolio includes articles on diverse topics such as landmark settlements in medical negligence cases, jury awards in personal injury lawsuits, and analyses of legal trial tactics. Her work not only showcases her legal acumen but also her ability to communicate complex legal issues effectively to a wider audience. Dani's blend of legal practice experience and her prowess in legal writing positions her uniquely in the intersection of law and literature.