GMR Senior Associate, Jessica Smeriglio, was victorious for a local Hospital sued for negligence in a Philadelphia jury trial. The 81-year-old Plaintiff was at the hospital visiting her husband, who was about to undergo major heart surgery. She was sitting in the waiting room when a nurse called her to return and say goodbye to her husband. She stood, and as she walked out of the waiting room, she tripped and fell on the base of a coat rack that allegedly impeded the path of ingress and egress to the waiting room. Plaintiff’s liability expert was an architect who testified the coat rack violated several building codes involving accessible routes and should have been placed in a safer area in the back of the waiting room. As a result of the fall, Plaintiff alleged meniscal tears to both knees as well as neck, back, and shoulder injuries for which she underwent injections and several months of physical therapy. As a result of her injuries, she could no longer take care of her autistic adult daughter in the same manner she did before the accident.
Jessica argued the coat rack was not dangerous as it was in plain view and no one else had problems walking into or out of the waiting room. Further, she argued the evidence showed that had Plaintiff been watching where she was stepping, she would not have tripped. Ultimately, Jessica argued that Plaintiff’s failure to pay attention to where she was walking was the cause of her fall.
The jury of 12 unanimously agreed with Jessica and found the hospital was not negligent.