Broken chair caused neck and back injuries, plaintiff claimed
|Negligent Repair and/or Maintenance, Premises Liability - Dangerous Condition, Premises Liability - Store|
|Eileen Thomas v. Westfield, No. SC111058|
|Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Beverly Hills, CA|
|Richard A. Stone
- Lawrence H. Nagler; Nagler & Associates; Los Angeles, CA, for Eileen Thomas
- Daniel L. Nagler; Nagler & Associates; Los Angeles, CA, for Eileen Thomas
- Timothy J. Lippert; Demler Armstrong & Rowland; Long Beach, CA, for Westfield
- John Brault M.S.; Biomechanical; Mission Viejo, CA called by: Timothy Lippert
- Richard Rosenberg M.D.; Orthopedic Surgery; Tarzana, CA called by: Timothy Lippert
- self insured Westfield
On Nov. 1, 2009, plaintiff Eileen Thomas, 49, a school teacher, was sitting at a table in a food court at the Westfield mall located in Century City, when the left front leg of the chair she was sitting on suddenly broke. The chair subsequently collapsed, causing her to grab hold of the edge of the table tightly to avoid falling to the ground. Thomas claimed that the force she had to exert while holding on to the table caused injuries to her neck, shoulders, back and arms.
Thomas sued the owner of the mall, Westfield. She alleged that the defendant was liable for failing to properly repair and/or maintain the chair, creating a dangerous condition.
Westfield admitted responsibility for the broken chair.
Thomas claimed cervical disc bulges at the C3-4, C4-5 and C5-6 levels, and went to her chiropractor the day after the accident. She also claimed soft-tissue strains to her neck, shoulders, arms and back. Thomas underwent 15 months of physical therapy.
Thomas missed a total of 17.5 days of work after the accident. She claimed she suffers residual pain and anxiety, as well as claimed having trouble sleeping. Thus, Thomas asked the jury to award damages for her medical costs, lost earnings and pain and suffering.
Defense counsel disputed Thomas' injuries and damages, contending that it was a minor incident that could not have caused any significant injuries. Counsel argued that the amount of her medical treatment Thomas underwent was excessive and unnecessary.
The defense's orthopedics expert opined that the incident could have caused, at most, mild muscle strains, which should have resolved with or without medical treatment in a few months. In addition, the defense's biomechanics expert opined that there were no significant twisting forces applied by Thomas to cause a disc injury.
Defense counsel noted that eight months before the incident, Thomas' orthopedist diagnosed her with degenerative disc disease after she complained of clicking in her neck.
The jury rendered a verdict for the plaintiff, awarding damages in the amount of $85,529.
$20,073 Personal Injury: Past Medical Cost
$6,598 Personal Injury: Past Lost Earnings Capability
$58,000 Personal Injury: Past Pain And Suffering
$858 Personal Injury: gasoline (for travel to doctors)
This report is based on information that was provided by plaintiff's and defense counsel.