Mr. Petka obtained a defense verdict for a local hospital following a premises liability jury trial in Philadelphia.
After discovering liquid on the ground stretching across two hallways, in a four hallway intersection, an employee of the hospital began warning visitors of the liquid. However, when the plaintiff approached the intersection in question, several other people also approached at the same time from various directions, creating congestion. In the confusion, the plaintiff walked into the puddle. He claimed he was never warned and fell directly onto his left shoulder.
The plaintiff is a 58 year-old disabled Marine Corps veteran who walks with a cane. Following the accident, he treated at the hospital’s emergency room and then followed up with therapy for his left shoulder over the course of six months. The therapy was not helpful and an MRI of the plaintiff’s shoulder revealed a full thickness tear of his rotator cuff. The plaintiff was referred to an orthopedic surgeon who recommend surgery. However, due to issues with his health insurance, he was unable to get the surgery prior to the trial.
At trial the plaintiff’s orthopedic surgeon testified on his behalf. The defense expert conceded that the plaintiff had a full thickness tear of the rotator cuff. The plaintiff, who testified that he had constant left shoulder pain, presented a claim for $28,624 in economic damages.
Ultimately the result hinged on liability. The plaintiff’s attorney alleged that the Hospital was negligent for failing to adequately teach their employees how to deal with a sudden spill. Mr. Petka argued that this was an emergency situation, and despite the fact that the plaintiff did fall, the hospital’s response was reasonable under the circumstances and it was not negligent under the law.
The jury of nine men and three woman deliberated over the course of an hour before returning a unanimous defense verdict.