GMR Wins Defense Verdict for Hospital with Millions on the Line

GMR Partner Joe Petka won a Philadelphia jury trial arising out of a workplace accident when a large door closed on the wrist of a 51-year-old housekeeper and mother of three.  The plaintiff was working in the environmental services department, as a subcontractor, at a local hospital. While trying to retrieve cleaning supplies from the Hospital closet, the hydraulically operated door abruptly closed on her wrist, resulting in a crush injury. The plaintiff’s expert in facilities and maintenance testified that the hospital was negligent in failing to maintain the hydraulic closer and for failing to provide plaintiff any way to hold the door open while removing her supplies.

As to damages, the plaintiff was treated by various physicians, who diagnosed her with: a crush injury to the left wrist; avulsion fracture of the left lunate; post-traumatic left TFCC tear; and complex regional pain syndrome. Plaintiff’s medical expert opined that she needed future medical treatment costing between $1,306,620 and $1,434,720. Additionally, as a result of the injury, the plaintiff could never successfully return to work. The plaintiff’s vocational expert opined her past and future wage loss from the accident ranged between $831,692 and $1,260,630.

Joe defended the hospital on the grounds they were not liable. First, the door at issue was required to stay closed due to safety regulations. These regulations were enacted to prevent cleaning chemicals and waste particulates from entering the hospital air. More importantly, the plaintiff had used the same closet before the day of the accident and knew that the door would close if not held open. Accordingly, Joe argued that the accident was caused solely by the plaintiff’s negligence in failing to hold the door open.

Ultimately the jury of six women and six men agreed with Joe and found that the hospital was not negligent.