Branch v. Dawson
A court can credit evidence that a plaintiff who allegedly slipped and fell already had herniated disks and did not further injure his back and award the plaintiff only the medical expenses and damages for pain and suffering related to the slip and fall. On Feb. 2, 2009, near midnight, the plaintiff tenant, Albert Branch, allegedly exited his first-floor apartment, started to walk down the stairs and slipped and fell, striking his head. The plaintiff, 50, allegedly lost consciousness, temporarily lost vision in one eye and suffered back pain and headaches. The plaintiff already had herniated disks in his back and received Social Security disability benefits as a result of a pre-existing injury. The plaintiff underwent physical therapy about eight months and was rated with a 5 percent permanent partial disability. The plaintiff sued the defendant landlord, alleging that the defendant failed to remove ice and snow and was negligent. The court found that the ice and snow had been on the steps about four days and should have been removed. "The dangerous and defective condition," wrote the court, "had existed for such a length of time that the owner in the exercise of due care should have known of its existence and should have remedied it before the plaintiff fell." The plaintiff proved that the defendant was negligent and failed to maintain the property in a reasonably safe condition. The court was not persuaded that the plaintiff's physical therapy for his back was related to his slip and fall in February 2009, as opposed to his pre-existing back condition and herniated disks. The plaintiff's medical expenses related to the fall were $6,622. The court awarded economic damages of $6,622 and non-economic damages, for pain and suffering, of $10,000.