California Court of Appeal Upholds Award of $99,000 to Injured Plaintiff in Crosswalk Trip and Fall Lawsuit in Long Beach

In an appeal before the Second Appellate District, the California Court of Appeal addressed an appeal brought by the City of Long Beach after the lower court awarded $99,000 in pain and suffering damages to the 81-year-old plaintiff in a Southern California trip and fall case.  After reviewing the jury’s award and supporting evidence, the court affirmed the award in favor of the injured plaintiff.

The 81-year-old plaintiff and his daughter were at a boat parade in Long Beach, and while walking to their car after the festivities, the plaintiff’s foot caught a curb, which caused him to fall into a crosswalk in the street. The plaintiff’s injuries included a broken shoulder. He received treatment non-surgically. The plaintiff then brought a complaint for premises liability against Long Beach on the grounds that it was negligent and created a dangerous condition of public property.

After deliberations, the jury found that the City was 51% at fault for the incident, and the plaintiff was 49% at fault.  The jury determined that the plaintiff’s pain and suffering was $194,118. This included $174,706 for past pain and suffering and $19,412 for future pain and suffering. The final judgment awarded the plaintiff $99,000.

Regarding whether there had been a dangerous condition at the crosswalk, the appellate court stated there was support for the jury’s finding.  The evidence was, according to the court, “essentially undisputed” that the curb had been protruding, and the plaintiff had to stop to reach the painted crosswalk.  This raised curb was not a trivial defect, particularly in light of the other pedestrians at the crosswalk. The court acknowledged there had not been any evidence of prior trip and fall accidents at the intersection, but the court stated that this does not compel a conclusion that the jury must have found in favor of the City.

Regarding the issue of whether the jury’s award of pain and suffering damages was supported by the evidence, the court stated the rule that an appellate court can reverse an award of damages when the award appears excessive or grossly disproportionate.  The court stated that the plaintiff here set forth evidence that supported the jury’s verdict.

Here, the plaintiff had relied on the testimony of his daughter, who said during the first three months following the accident, her father experienced pain that made him incapable of performing his physical therapy.  He also allegedly experienced fear, mental suffering, and emotional distress.  Medical testimony supported a finding that the injury could progress, becoming more painful. The plaintiff was allegedly only capable of performing half of the routine activities he performed before the accident.

The appellate court stated that since the evidence supported the jury’s award, they would affirm it.

The court also addressed the City’s arguments that the plaintiff’s expert was not qualified to testify and that the City was entitled to design immunity.  Additionally, the court rejected the City’s motion for a new trial on the ground of juror misconduct.  The court stated that since the trial court found that there had not been misconduct, they need not review whether prejudice occurred.

The appellate court affirmed the judgment in favor of the injured plaintiff.

At Sharifi Firm, our premises liability attorneys represent injured individuals throughout Southern California.  To schedule a free consultation with a dedicated attorney, contact our office at 1-866-422-7222 or reach us online.

More Blog Posts:

Finding Liability in a Slip and Fall or a Trip and Fall, Southern California Injury Lawyer Blog, October 25, 2014

California Court of Appeal Finds Condition Outside Pacific Palisades Vons Market Not Dangerous, Plaintiff Not Entitled to Damages for Slip and Fall Accident, Southern California Injury Lawyer Blog, August 11, 2016

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