81-Year-Old Man Awarded $812,300 After Slip and Fall

Case Caption: Charles Chase vs. Jim Tidwell Ford, Civ. Action File No. 1:11-CV-00173-CAP
Court:  United States District Court, Northern District of Georgia
Judge:  Honorable Charles Pannell Jr.
Plaintiff’s Attorneys: Orlando Ojeda Jr., Walker Ojeda, LLC; Robert Tidwell, Brodhead Law
Defendant’s Attorneys:  Jeffrey Bashuk, Bashuk & Glickman; Scott Schweber, Evans, Scholz, Williams & Warncke
Alleged Damages: Broken hip after a fall caused by a lack of handrail
Verdict: $812,300
Date of Verdict: April 27, 2012

Summary: Plaintiff, a retired CFO for a luxury hotel chain, returned to a car dealership where he had purchased a Ford Focus, in order to pick up documents related to the transaction.  In an office at the dealership, Plaintiff stepped onto a raised step or box that was next to a sales tower, but not bolted to the floor.  As Plaintiff turned to leave, he lost his balance, fell onto a tile floor, and fractured his hip.  Plaintiff underwent hip replacement surgery, but due to his age and bone density, he was left with one leg ¾ of an inch shorter than the other. 

Liability was hotly contested.  At issue was whether the step shifted under Plaintiff’s weight and the absence of a handrail.  The defense brought the step into court and the jurors were given the opportunity to walk on it.  However, the federal jury eventually returned a verdict of $1.83 Million for the Plaintiff, but the amount was reduced by 25 percent because the jury apportioned 25 percent of the damages to Plaintiff for his own negligence.

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