Pennsylvania Verdicts

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Shopper blamed store for slip and fall, damage to her wrist

Amount:

$523,200

Type:

Verdict-Plaintiff

State:

Pennsylvania

Venue:

Philadelphia County

Court:

Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas

Injury Type(s):

ankle-sprain/strain; other-physical therapy; other-epidural injections; other-decreased range of motion; wrist-triangular fibrocartilage complex, torn;
surgeries/treatment-arthroscopy; surgeries/treatment-debridement

Case Type:

Premises Liability – Store; Slips, Trips & Falls – Slip and Fall; Premises Liability – Dangerous Condition, Negligent Repair and/or Maintenance

Case Name:

Nilsa Bruno v. Castor Avenue Market LLC a/k/a Supreme Supermarket,
No. 160501889

Date:

November 21, 2017

Parties

Plaintiff(s):

Nilsa Bruno (Female, 30 Years)

Plaintiff Attorney(s):

Glen R. Morris;
Glen R. Morris, Esquire;
Philadelphia,
PA,
for
Nilsa Bruno

Plaintiff Expert(s):

Joseph Thoder; M.D.; Hand Surgery; Philadelphia,
PA called by:
Glen R. Morris ■ Philip Spergel; Ed.D.; Vocational Rehabilitation; Jenkintown,
PA called by:
Glen R. Morris

Defendant(s):

Castor Avenue Market LLC

Defense Attorney(s):

Brian D. Boyle;
Law Offices of James L. Barlow;
King of Prussia,
PA,
for
Castor Avenue Market LLC

Defendant Expert(s):

Jack Abboudi;
Hand Surgery;
Newtown Square,
PA called by:
Brian D. Boyle ■ Ronald Rosenberg;
Vocational Assessment;
Philadelphia,
PA called by:
Brian D. Boyle

Insurer(s):

Farmers Insurance Group of Cos.

Facts:

On May 21, 2014, plaintiff Nilsa Bruno, 30, a cosmetics consultant, was walking through the aisles of Supremo Supermarket, in Philadelphia. As she turned the corner, she slipped and fell on vegetable oil. She claimed a right-wrist injury. Bruno sued store-owner Castor Avenue Market LLC, alleging that it was negligent in allowing a dangerous condition to exist on its premises. Bruno’s counsel presented photographs of the spilled vegetable oil in the aisle where she fell. Her counsel faulted Castor for failing to correct a dangerous condition, although the store knew, or should have known, of the condition. The store contended that there was no evidence of how long the condition existed and that the store had taken reasonable steps under the circumstances.

Injury:

Bruno was taken by ambulance to an emergency room, where she was diagnosed with sprains to her right (dominant) wrist and right ankle, which was fitted with a walking boot. The next day, she followed up with her family physician, who referred her to a hand surgeon. After an MRI, she was diagnosed with a tear of the triangular fibrocartilage complex of her right hand. In the ensuing years, Bruno consulted with the hand surgeon, had epidural injections of a steroid-based painkiller, and treated with physical therapy. In May 2016, with conservative treatment unsuccessful, she had arthroscopy and debridement to her wrist. Following surgery, she continued to consult with her surgeon and treat with physical therapy through the end of the year. By February 2017, it was determined that she had reached maximum medical improvement. Bruno’s hand surgeon causally related her wrist injury and treatment to the accident, and said that she continues to lack 15 percent of her former strength. At the time of the accident, Bruno was enrolled in cosmetology school, and due to her wrist injury she was allegedly unable to complete the program and pursue a career in the field. Bruno’s expert in vocational rehabilitation calculated Bruno’s loss of earning potential had she become a cosmetologist. The job requires considerable bilateral upper extremity psychomotor functions, including fine and gross manipulation. Her injury prevents her from using the tools needed to function successfully in that capacity, the expert determined. Bruno sought to recover $634,000 to $724,800 in future lost earnings, which was based on a work life between the ages of 65 to 70. Bruno testified that, because of restrictions on her wrist, she had some limitations in her daily activities, including child care, but the main complaint was an inability to continue her career. She sought damages for past and future pain and suffering. Castor Avenue Market’s expert in hand surgery opined that Bruno’s complaints immediately after the accident were not consistent with the injury alleged and ultimately treated. Specifically, she had initially complained of pain to the radius/right side of her right wrist but the injury that was eventually diagnosed was to the left side of her wrist. The expert maintained that Bruno’s ongoing issues were caused by her failure to comply with her physician’s recommended treatment plan post-surgery; Bruno had missed physical therapy appointments. Castor’s expert in vocational rehabilitation opined that any lost earnings Bruno would sustain amounted to $150,000.

Result:

The jury found that Castor Avenue Market was negligent and its negligence was a factual cause of harm to Bruno, who was determined to receive $523,200.

Nilsa Bruno: $3,200 Personal Injury: Past Medical Cost; $500,000 Personal Injury: past and future lost earnings; $20,000 Personal Injury: pain and suffering

Trial Information:

Judge:

Frederica A. Massiah-Jackson

Trial Length:

3
 days

Post Trial:

The court denied Castor’s motion for new trial and remittitur.

Editor’s Comment:

This report is based on information that was provided by plaintiff’s and defense counsel. Additional information was gleaned from court documents.