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Premises Liability – Slip & Fall


The plaintiff, a female in her late 30s, resided at the condominium complex where the fall occurred. The plaintiff contended that the defendant management company of the condominium complex negligently failed to apply salt to ice which formed after the snow from a large snowstorm that occurred nine days earlier melted.

The plaintiff also asserted that the contract of the complex’s maintenance company, a co-defendant in this action, required it to give assistance to the management company when requested and maintained that it failed to do so. The co-defendant maintenance company denied receiving such a request and pointed to the absence of any work orders. The defendant management company contended that at times such requests are informal in nature and that there would not be a purchase order.

The condominium board, the plaintiff further contended, should have taken steps to have the work completed when it became apparent that it had not been done. No individual members of the condominium board were named by the plaintiff. The defendants argued that in view of the fact that the plaintiff was a member of the board, she could have attempted to take some action herself.

The plaintiff contended that as a result of the fall she suffered ulnar neuropathy which required nerve transposition surgery and will permanently cause severe pain and weakness. Additionally, the plaintiff maintained that she suffered a cervical herniation which required a fusion and the use of a titanium cage. The plaintiff asserted that she will permanently suffer extensive pain and restriction from this injury as well.

The defendant contended that considering the fact the plaintiff had a number of prior accidents as well as one accident subsequent to the subject fall and did not undergo the surgery for some five years after the fall, her claims of causal relationship should be questioned. The plaintiff countered that after a short-term recovery following the earlier accidents, she was asymptomatic until the subject fall occurred. The subsequent auto accident involved a uninsured driver who struck the plaintiff in the rear and the plaintiff included this driver as a defendant in this action, claiming an aggravation of the injuries sustained in the fall down.

The fall down aspect settled during jury selection for $492,500, including $375,000 from the defendant management company, $67,500 from the co-defendant maintenance company and $50,000 from the condominium board. The plaintiff also obtained a default against the uninsured defendant driver and the plaintiff’s UM claim relating to that accident is pending.

Docket No.: MID-L-12040-97; Judge Mathias E. Rodriguez, January 2001.
Attorney for plaintiff: Charles Cerussi of Budd Larner Gross Rosenbaum Greenberg & Sade in Short Hills.