This slip and fall incident occurred on the sales floor of a Target store located at 15055 SW 88th Street, Miami, Florida on March 19, 2012.
Shopper Claimed Neck and Knee Injuries
A cervical herniation is in the neck. A patellar fracture is a fracture of the knee cap. A meniscal tear is a tear of cartilage.
Shopper Demanded $125,000 to Settle
On January 11, 2014, the injured shopper’s attorney made a $125,000 settlement demand to Target. Her demand letter was sent to Keith Edlund at Sedgwick Claims Management Services for Target Guest Reporting Center.
Her Medical Bills were Almost $28,000
The total billed charges were $27,999.00. This consisted of treatment at the Baptist Hospital Emergency Room. She also had an MRI bill, anesthesia bills and other bills.
The majority of her medical bills were from Florida Orthopedic Center, P.A.
She sues Target
The claim didn’t settle. So Elvia Hernandez sued Target Corporation for personal injury from her slip and fall.
Customer Says She Slipped on Liquid
Her attorney claimed that she slipped and fell in a liquid substance causing her to suffer significant personal injuries.
Target Denies Fault
Target denied that there was liquid on the floor or any knowledge thereof. Target denied liability.
Tip: A slip and fall case is tougher if the injured person claims that there was liquid on the floor, and the store denies that there was liquid on the floor or that it had any knowledge of it.
Target removed this case to federal court. It usually, if not always, tries to get cases against it into Federal Court in Florida.
Target Tried to Get the Case Dismissed
Target argued that the case should be dismissed because:
- Hernandez did not know how the spill occurred.
- Hernandez did not know who caused the spill.
- Hernandez did not know when the spill occurred or how long it had been present.
- Hernandez had no evidence that any of Target’s employees caused the spill.
- Hernandez had no evidence that someone employed by Target was aware of the spill before she fell.
- Hernandez had no reason to believe that someone from Target knew there was something on the floor but chose to ignore it.
- Hernandez had no evidence that any Target employee was in the area of her fall prior to her fall.
- Hernandez did not recall seeing any foot prints in the area of the spill and did not see shopping cart tracks through the spill.
- Hernandez did not see the spill before the fall although there were no obstructions that prevented her from seeing the floor before she fell.
- Hernandez’s case against Target is simply that she slipped and claims she saw a clear liquid after her fall.
Shopper Argues Why Case Shouldn’t Be Dismissed
The injured lady had a witness, her daughter, who completed an affidavit that said:
- When she turned, she saw her mother, screaming and holding her knee.
- Hernandez was sitting in a puddle of liquid and her pants were wet.
- She saw several track marks through the puddle of liquid and they did not have a shopping cart that day.
The witness also said that the manager took a camera and took a picture of the injured shopper, the liquid spill, and the ceiling, which was missing roof tiles directly overhead from where her mother fell. The area smelled of fresh tar. She was familiar with the smell because her father is a roofer.
Target Offered Shopper $100,000 to Settle; Shopper Rejected It
Sometime after the lawsuit was filed and before trial, Target made the injured shopper a $100,000 offer to settle. The customer didn’t accept it.
Jury Found Both Target and Customer Liable
The jury found that Target’s negligence caused Elvia Hernandez’s injury. It also said that Elvia’s negligence caused her injury.
Most of the Fault was Placed on Customer
It assigned the negligence as follows:
- Target 10%
- Hernandez 90%
Jury Awards $90,000 in medical expenses
Jury awards $30,000 in Pain and Suffering
In Florida, this is a low pain and suffering award for a broken kneecap, torn meniscus with surgery and cervical herniation.
Perhaps the jurors didn’t feel that her torn meniscus and herniated disc were caused by the accident. This is just a guess on my part as I don’t know what the doctors testified to.
A Miami lawyer represented the injured guest.
Total Damages were $120,000
Shopper Gets $12,000
Since the Target was 10% at fault, the judgment was for $12,000.
This is because $120,000 times 10% equals $12,000.
The jury trial lasted 5 days. The jury entered its verdict on 7/17/15.
Target Paid its Senior Lawyer $145 per hour
Target paid its senior attorneys (partners) $145/hour in this case. Its lead attorney in this case has been a Florida lawyer for 37 years.
He is from the Fort Lauderdale, Florida law firm of Cooney Trybus.
Target Spent about $50,0000 in attorney’s fees and costs
Target’s attorney said that its attorney’s fees were $33,883.00 and its costs were $16,343.84 in this case. That comes to fees and costs off $50,226.84. The court hasn’t yet decided if it will award Target attorney’s fees and costs.
Customer May Have to Pay Target Over $38,000
If the court does award Target attorney’s fees and costs, the shopper may owe Target around $38,000 or so. This is because the customer rejected Target’s offer to settle for an amount that was 25% higher than the judgment.
Though there is insurance that an injured person can buy that covers the defenses fees and costs should they beat their offer of settlement. I don’t know if the lady bought this insurance. A personal injury lawyer can pay for it and later get reimbursed from the settlement.
The judges were as follows:
Kathleen M. Williams, presiding
Andrea M. Simonton, referral
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