Recently I completed an extensive research project regarding all reported slip and fall settlement and verdict amounts after July of 2010 (when Florida’s slip and fall statute changed for the worse, at least from the plaintiffs’ perspective). However, many slip and fall settlements are never reported, which makes the list below incomplete and therefore misleading in some important ways. Essentially, many injury attorneys do not report values “in the middle.” They rarely report cases valued under 1 million. So, again, the list below could be extremely misleading, as there are many unreported cases with values between 50 & 500K.
The most important thing in any slip and fall case is to speak with an attorney who will carefully evaluate the facts, to determine whether there might be any way to prove the business should be liable, and for how much.
However, below are my notes with limited commentary on the first 31 cases, which includes almost all of the reported 2014 slip & fall cases from the state of Florida. (Even if you are viewing this article several years after 2014, this will still give you a very good idea of how these cases are valued.) YOU CAN SCROLL TO THE END OF THIS POST FOR A STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN / OVERVIEW & CONCLUSION.
Reported Slip & Fall Verdicts & Settlements Must Inform Settlement Discussions
You will notice that there are a few nice sized slip and fall verdicts, but there are a cautionary number of low and/or zero verdicts. Based on these summaries, we do not know the specific details (evidence) presented in each case. However, the overall trend must inform any slip and fall settlement discussions (such as those during any mediation). This information should also be a call to Florida’s Legislature to return to a fair version of Florida’s slip and fall statute. However, after the latest election, I am not hopeful that will happen anytime soon.
Florida Slip & Fall Settlement Amounts
You can jump to the end for a brief statistical summary. I have bolded the key facts. Note that attorneys often consider the county of the claim, date of the accident, and evidence of notice or negligence on the part of the property owner, to be relevant factors in the valuation analysis. This list includes only reported cases reported in Florida slip and fall cases (settlements & verdicts) for 2014. Many settlements of great cases are never reported, and obviously never go to trial.
Grain Of Salt?
Although I never ignore these numbers, there are a HUGE variation in the facts demonstrating the fault (or lack of fault) on the part of the defendant, as well as the severity of injuries involved. So careful analysis of the facts & law ALWAYS trumps blind consideration of the numbers from other cases.
Basic Facts Regarding Each Reported Slip & Fall Case:
(1) Tallent vs. Pilot Travel Center, LLC. $68,500 verdict. Charlotte County FL. Oct. 2014. Two arthroscopic surgeries: shoulder tear plus aggravation of knee arthritis. Facts: Diesel spill near pumps of a Flying J truck stop believed to be near Tampa. Prior trucker had overfilled his truck with diesel fuel, causing a spill 15-20 minutes before. Apparently the court felt this was enough for actual or constructive notice required under 768.0755. But plaintiff knew about the spill, had walked through the area several times, and the defendant had placed barrels to barricade the area. Defendant also reported that it takes 30-60 minutes to clean diesel spills using an oil absorbent. Jury found plaintiff 35% responsible, so award will be reduced that percentage. Also, defendant moved to set off prior benefits, including SSI, which, if granted, would reduce the award to $0.
(2) ROSA GARCIA vs. TARGET CORPORATION. Defense verdict. Oct. 2014. Broward County. Slip and fall on liquid substance at Target in Davie, Florida (DOA: June 2011). Facts about whether Target knew about the spill unknown, although Target claimed that warning signs were in place. Case removed to federal court.
(3) MARIE CORRINE DOUDEAU vs. TARGET CORPORATION. Defense verdict. Oct. 2014. Broward County. Plaintiff slipped and fell on water in a Target store in Hollywood, Florida (DOA: August 2011). Additional facts of case unknown.
(4) ANDREA THOMPSON vs. DIOCESE OF PALM BEACH INC. $2,500,000.00 verdict. Sept. 2014. Palm Beach County. Woman slipped and fell on poorly constructed exterior sidewalk at a church located in Boca Raton, Florida. DOA: 2009. 39 year old plaintiff had undergone 4 surgeries and will need at least 2 total knee replacements in the future. The plaintiff sued the church, the general contractor who built the church, and the subcontractor who built the sidewalk. The subcontractor settled before trial. The other defendants offered as much as 500K to settle before trial. The defendants conceded liability and went to trial solely on damages.
(5) DAVIS vs. COSTCO WHOLESALE CORPORATION. Defense verdict. Sept. 2014. Lee County. 50 year old man slipped and fell on water caused by shopping carts that had tracked water under the overhang from the parking lot of a Costco store, believed to be near Fort Myers, Miami or Naples Florida. Defendant argued plaintiff failed to use due caution in rainy weather. DOA: Oct. 2011. Plaintiff proved that there were no cones or warning signs to alert him of the slippery condition. The plaintiff suffered a herniated disc requiring future lumbar injections.
(6) MORALES vs. BOGGYCREEK FOOD CORPORATION. $8,806 gross verdict, reduced by 70% comparative negligence (fault attributed to plaintiff), which gave the plaintiff an award of $2642. Osceola County. 62 year old plaintiff alleged that slipped and fell on a mat saturated with water at the defendant Kissimmee supermarket because of a freezer leak. Plaintiff needed a total knee replacement, which she claimed was a result of the fall. Defense argued that plaintiff did not provide any evidence that the defendant had notice of the defect in the rug or the presence of water on the floor. The plaintiff also wore slippers into the store and walked with a limp. The defendant’s expert orthopedic surgeon testified that plaintiff’s total knee replacement was related to pre-existing osteoarthritis. The jury found the plaintiff 70% comparatively negligent and the defendant 30% negligent.
(7) Christian v. Venetian Condo. $288,030.00 verdict (Breakdown: $39,029.72 for past medical expenses, $100,000 for past pain & suffering, and $150,000 for future pain & suffering). Jury verdict / Sept. 2014. Broward County. DOA: Aug 2011. Plaintiff slipped and fell due to a slippery substance on the parking garage floor at the Venetian Condominium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Plaintiff suffered unspecified personal injuries. Unknown facts regarding details re: the slippery substance.
(8) Harry J. Baldwin v. Steak n Shake Operations Inc. $44,839 jury verdict, reduced to $26,903 via fault apportionment. DOA: April 2010. Date of verdict: 2014. Duval County. Plaintiff was injured when he slipped and fell by slipping into an unguarded drain hole while performing lawn work at a Steak n Shake in Jacksonville, Florida. The plaintiff asserted the hole had existed long enough for the defendant to have known about it. Apportionment of fault: 60% defendant / 40% plaintiff. Injuries and other facts unknown.
(9) WARREN ESANU vs. OCEANIA CRUISES, INC. $49,198, reduced to $9,839.60 after fault apportionment. Miami-Dade County. Date of verdict: July 2014. DOA: Dec 2012. Plaintiff slipped and fell on a wet cruise ship deck. He claimed that the defendant cruise ship was negligent in failing to squeegee and/or block passenger access to the deck. Injuries unknown. The jury found the plaintiff 80% negligent and the defendant 20% negligent.
(10) Burke v. City of Hollywood. Verdict $23,878, reduced to $4,775 per fault apportionment. DOA: Nov 2009. Date of verdict: Feb 2011. Plaintiff slipped and fell on an uneven sidewalk in the city of Hollywood, Florida. She sustained injuries to her right hip and right shoulder, as well as blurred vision and headaches. She alleged the defendant was negligent in failing to maintain the sidewalk. The jury found the plaintiff was 80% responsible and the defendant was 20% responsible.
(11) Milena Krusteva v. Gaymart USA. Verdict $4,717,055.00. DOA: Feb 2012. DOV: July 2014. Breakdown of Award: $147,055.00 to plaintiff for past loss of earning capacity, $600,000.00 to plaintiff for future loss of earning capacity, $44,000.00 to plaintiff for past medical expenses, $126,000.00 to plaintiff for future medical expenses, and $3,800,000.00 for future pain and suffering, disability, physical impairment, disfigurement, mental anguish, inconvenience, aggravation of a disease or physical defect, and loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life. Plaintiff slipped and fell on spilled drinks on a dance floor at the Atomic Bomb Nightclub in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida (Broward County). The extent of her injuries or treatment is unknown, but is believed to have been very serious and/or catastrophic based on the exceptionally high verdict. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant failed to properly maintain the dance floor and used dim lighting that prevented her from seeing the spill.
(12) William Joseph Cohen v. Renaissance Hotel Management Company, LLC d/b/a Eden Roc, A Renaissance Resort & Spa. $770,121 verdict, reduced to $385,061 via 50/50 fault apportionment between plaintiff and defendant. DOA: July 2010. Miami-Dade County. The Plaintiff slipped and fell on a wet and slippery wooden deck near a pool at A Renaissance Resort & Spa in Miami, Florida. He sustained injuries to his shoulder, neck, back, mouth and wrist as a result (the extent of his injuries & treatment is unknown). The defendant alleged that there were three yellow warning cones on the deck. The jury found that the plaintiff was 50% responsible and the defendant was 50% responsible.
(13) LE vs. FIVE STAR NAIL LLC. Verdict $97,000, reduced to $19,400 after 80/20 fault apportionment. Date of verdict: June 2014. The plaintiff was a 60 year old woman who slipped and fell as a result of mop water on the floor of a nail salon in Kissimmee (Osceola County). She claimed the defendant had recently mopped and left the floor wet and slippery. The plaintiff suffered a severely fractured patella, undergoing open reduction and internal fixation. The plaintiff’s treating surgeon opined that she had developed traumatic arthritis, an altered walking gait, and sustained a 9% permanent impairment as a result of her injury. She also claimed total medical expenses exceeding 93K, including the cost of future surgery for hardware removal. The defendant claimed that it was obvious the floor was wet and had been mopped, and the plaintiff was comparatively negligent for not using due caution in the area. The defense also claimed she had recovered well from her knee injury. The jury found the defendant 20% negligent and the plaintiff 80% negligent.
(14) Songin v. Publix. Defense verdict. DOA: Jan 2012. Date of verdict: June 2014. Plaintiff was injured when she slipped and fell on a raised portion of a rug in a Publix Supermarket in West Palm Beach, when walking toward the bathroom. The defense argued that she failed to maintain awareness and observe the conditions around her.
(15) RAGAN vs. BEALL’S OUTLET STORES INC. $430 gross verdict. Volusia County. Date of verdict: May 2014. Plaintiff slipped and fell in a large puddle of water on the floor in Beall’s outlet on a rainy day. The defendant argued that any water on the floor came from the plaintiff’s own umbrella. The plaintiff, then in her 40s, testified that the puddle was 1.5 x 3 feet in diameter, and located near the register area. She said that she overheard one of the employees saying that the water had leaked from another customer’s umbrella. The plaintiff’s ortho surgeon testified that she sustained disc bulges and herniated discs, so future surgery was recommended. The defense argued that there was security video footage showing that the plaintiff picked up her umbrella, rolled it up, and wiped the counter as if to wipe away water. The defense also argued that her condition was degenerative in nature, not caused by the fall. She also weighed more than 300 pounds and had been involved in two prior motor vehicle accidents, both involving injuries to the same area. The jury found the defendant 5% negligent and the plaintiff 95% comparatively negligent, which reduced the award to $430. Bet she wishes she had accepted the defendant’s 50K proposal for settlement before trial.
(16) Miriam Rosello v. City of Miami. Defense verdict. DOA: Feb. 2011. Plaintiff tripped over a section of an uneven section of sidewalk. Defense verdict in May of 2014.
(17) PLAINTIFF DOE vs. DEFENDANT CAR DEALERSHIP. Very sad case. Broward County. Date of settlement: May 2014. Confidential settlement reached during the 3rd day of trial, before jury selection had even been completed. Before the confidential unknown settlement, Plaintiff had been seeking $13,500,000.00 in total economic damages, including past and future medical expense and lost wages. (Note, this number did not include non-economic damages, which is the value of past and future pain and suffering). The plaintiff was a 50 year old female employed by a cleaning service retained by the defendant car dealership. She was working at night (cleaning offices), when she slipped and fell in oil, which the defendant failed to clean from the floor of one of it’s garage bays. The plaintiff was one of 3 people working at night to clean the indoor office space, but she had to walk through the defendant’s garage bays, where repair work was performed during the day, to access the office spaces. On the night in question, she claimed that the garage bay was not well lit, and she suddenly slipped and fell, landing on her back and neck. She did not immediately go to the hospital. Rather, after being incapacitated for 30 minutes, she drove other workers home, then was transported by ambulance to the hospital. As for her injuries: she was initially diagnosed with disc herniations in both her lumbar and cervical spine, which her doctors related to the fall. About 4 months later, she underwent lumbar surgery. About 8 months later, she had a triple-level cervical fusion, performed on an outpatient basis. After being sent home from that surgery, she suffered an epidural hematoma in her cervical spine, which led to permanent quadriparesis. The defense claimed that the plaintiff was to blame because she didn’t avoid the oil or watch where she was going. The defense also claimed that she did not need surgery for her injuries and blamed medical malpractice during her cervical fusion surgery.
(18) Diaz v. Boynton-JCP Associates Ltd. d/b/a Boynton Beach Mall. Defense verdict in 2014. DOA: Feb. 2011. Palm Beach County. Plaintiff tripped and fell due to a large gap or space between the walkway slabs on the exterior walkway of a Ruby Tuesday Restaurant located in the Boynton Beach Mall. The plaintiff claimed that the slabs were missing grout or adhesive between them, which created an optical illusion as well as a hazard. Unknown injuries & treatment.
(19) Garcia v. Broward County. Defense verdict. DOA: June 2010. DOV: May 2014. Broward County. Plaintiff slipped and fell on a sprinkler head at Topeegee Yugnee Park, in Broward County. Injuries & treatment unspecified.
(20) Hilda Romero-Pacheco v. Blue Lagoon Condominium Association of Manatee County Inc., Samuel Petricone, Mary Petricone and the City of Holmes Beach. Jury verdict $445,713.00. DOA: Jan. 2011. Date of verdict: May 2014. Manatee County. Plaintiff fell into an uncovered drainage hole. The plaintiff sued the condo association, the city, and what is believed to be the individual property owners. The condo argued that the city owned the property and the plaintiff was partly responsible (comparatively negligent). The jury found the condo association 40% responsible, the city 55% responsible, and the plaintiff 5% responsible. The award breakdown included approximately $45K for past medical expenses, $19K for future medical expenses, $45K for past pain and suffering, $300K for future pain and suffering, and $5K for future lost income.
(21) SACKS vs. EAGLE CARPET RESTORATION INC. Gross verdict $559,163, reduced 70% due to plaintiff’s comparative negligence. The plaintiff, a female in her late 60s, fell in the restroom where she worked at a car dealership, on mop water left on the floor allegedly by the defendant janitorial service.
(22) Minguez v. Pelaez. $31,215 verdict, reduced to $6,242.92 after 80/20 fault apportionment. DOA: Jan. 2007. DOV: May 2014. Postal worker walking on sidewalk was injured when she tripped and fell on an uneven portion of the sidewalk. Injuries, treatment & other facts unknown.
(23) Goldberg v. Shoor. Defense verdict. DOA: July 2008. DOV: May 2014. Miami-Dade County. Plaintiff slipped and fell in the offices of Avatar Real Estate Services when she allegedly was walking from the tile-floor in the foyer to the tile-floor main room, when she tripped on an unexpected step down with no marker to indicate an elevation change. She alleged the grout lines of the tiles created an optical illusion. Injuries & treatment unknown.
(24) Stander v. Sabadell United Bank. Defense verdict. Palm Beach County. DOA: May 2010. DOV: April 2014. Plaintiff slipped and fell on a wet floor at the entrance of a bank in Boca Raton, Florida. The plaintiff alleged that it was raining outside and floor near the entrance was wet from rain tracked by other visitors. There were no mats on the floor, nor warning signs. Injuries & treatment unknown.
(25) Victorine Brown v. Columbia Sussex Corporation d/b/a Crowne Plaza Tampa East. Defense verdict. Hillsborough County. DOA: Oct. 2008. DOV: April 2014. Plaintiff allegedly slipped and fell wet doormat while visiting the Crown Plaza Hotel in Tampa. Case removed to federal court. Plaintiff’s injuries included a complete knee replacement, so she was seeking nearly 500K in total damages.
(26) Sacks v. Eagle Carpet Restoration. $553,163 verdict, reduced 70% based on plaintiff’s own negligence. Broward County. The Plaintiff allegedly slipped and fell on mop water in the women’s restroom. The defendant denied that the floor was wet and claimed that the plaintiff bypassed wet floor signs. The plaintiff was a female in her late 60s who suffered a herniated disc requiring surgery. One of her co-employees testified that he viewed the water on the floor. The defendant claimed that she bypassed wet floor signs, and they also contested the injuries that resulted from the fall. Another employee testified that he mopped the floor an hour before and used a blower to dry the floor completely. A manager testified that he inspected the floor after the fall and did not see any water. The defense also presented evidence of pre-existing conditions involving the same body parts, and presented evidence that the plaintiff had been very active after the accident, including traveling abroad on cruises with her husband. The jury found the plaintiff 70% negligent and the defendant 30% negligent.
(27) Wright v. Publix Supermarkets. Defense verdict. DOA: Aug. 2008. DOV: March 2014. 45 year old female shopper slipped and fell at Publix in Miami-Dade County. She suffered a herniated disc requiring multiple epidural injections, a discectomy and a second subsequent fusion surgery, and was left with a permanent impairment.
(28) FREEMAN v. POLLO OPERATIONS, INC. Defense verdict. DOA: Sept. 2010. DOV: March 2014. Miami-Dade County. Plaintiff allegedly slipped and fell in a puddle of water on a sloped area near the entrance to this restaurant. She suffered a fractured pelvis and wrist. She contended that the area did not comply with applicable building, safety and maintenance codes, and the Americans with Disabilities Act. The defendant contended that it began to rain while she was in the restaurant and she waited 30 minutes for the rain to stop before exiting. The defendant also claimed she was wearing flip-flops at the time of the incident.
(29) Packard v. Park. Defense verdict. DOA: July 2011. DOV: March 2014. Plaintiff tripped and fell over a concrete parking bumper when walking in a parking garage. She alleged the defendant failed to provide adequate lighting and their parking bumpers were not properly aligned. She also asserted that the parking bumper had poorly finished epoxy that was difficult to see without proper lighting. The defense asserted that the plaintiff was negligent in failing to watch where she was walking.
(30) Harry White v. Okeechobee Golf and Country Club Inc. Verdict: $550,000, increased in judgment to $1,281,776.00. DOA: Sept. 2012. DOV: March 2014. Palm Beach County. The Plaintiff was reportedly a guest at the Okeechobee Golf and Country club, when he fell and was injured. The extent of his injuries & treatment is unknown, but believed to be very serious and/or catastrophic. Surprisingly and notably, the court entered a directed verdict against the defendant on the issue of liability. The jury only had to determine damages.
(31) Laura M. Brandstetter and Matthew Brandstetter v. Quest Diagnostics Inc. d/b/a Quest Diagnostics Clinical Labs Inc. Plaintiff arbitration decision $8,242. Plaintiff slipped and fell on a foreign substance as she was exiting the lab at Quest Diagnostics in Lehigh Acres, Fl.
(32) Johnson v. Tamarac Hotels. Plaintiff jury verdict $1,155,806, decreased by 10% because the jury found the plaintiff partially responsible. DOV: Nov. 2014. This was a slip and fall in front of a hotel ice machine, in Broward County. The hotel did not have slip resistant carpets or mats in front of the ice machine. The 29 year old plaintiff was 8 months pregnant, fell, and sustained injuries. As is typical for many moderate to severe injury cases, the plaintiff was first treated at the hospital, then told to follow up with her primary care physician. She was later diagnosed with lumbar disc bulges and facet hypertrophy (which is degeneration of the face joints, which are a small pair of joints on the back of the spine). For treatment, the plaintiff received 17 injections, including epidurals, sacroiliac injections, and facet nerve blocks. Despite all of that treatment, the plaintiff testified that she still had low back pain with radiculopathy (often numbness or tingling). The defense argued that subsequent injuries (from a car accident and fall at her boyfriend’s house) were causing the plaintiff pain. The defense attorney filed an appeal challenging the verdict amount.
Statistical Summary Of Florida Slip & Fall Settlement Amounts
As a very important caveat, most slip and fall settlements are never reported, including many with significantly higher values. And verdicts often represent those cases that went to trial because they had bad facts. Plus lower verdict or settlement amounts often reflect less serious damages.
Of those reported, since July 31, 2010, 97 reported verdicts & settlements in Florida slip and fall cases were higher than $100K. 266 reported slip and fall verdicts & settlements were less than 100K, including 202 that were zero (defense verdicts), 44 were less than 50K, and 20 were between 50 & 100K. Total reported verdicts & settlements: 363. Total over 100K: 97. So 26% of reported Florida slip and fall verdicts & settlements were higher than 100K. 55% were defense verdicts. 67% were either defense verdicts or less than 50K. 73% were either defense verdicts or less than 100K. But, again, the facts involving defendant notice or negligence, together with the severity of the injuries, can make a big difference. There were a few very high verdicts.
(Also, remember, from these amounts, your doctors will be reimbursed for medical expenses (often negotiated lower) and your lawyers will be paid.)
What Does This Mean For Your Slip & Fall Case?
Well, it depends. You definitely need to be careful about who you hire and how they prepare your lawsuit. Plus, if your slip and fall lawyer suggests that you should seriously consider a reasonable settlement offer, then you need to be realistic, and possibly accept the offer. On the other hand, if the facts surrounding the fault of the defendant are clear, and/or your injuries are significant, then holding out for a trial might land you in the group of plaintiffs who receive larger verdicts. Also, as I mentioned earlier, many “middle tier” slip and fall settlements are never reported.
What Is The Good News About Slip & Fall Cases?
The very high verdicts in some Florida slip and fall cases give defense attorneys concern that they have to be reasonable during settlement discussions. Additionally, many very good settlements are never reported (making the above list incomplete), and defense attorneys might take more bad cases to trial (making the percentage of defense verdicts, above, misleading). Another piece of good news, unique to slip and fall cases, is that very often “deep pockets” are on the other side, as opposed to other accident & injury cases, when the policy limits of insurance policies can be significantly limiting. In slip and fall cases, good facts on liability, together with serious injuries, are still definitely worth filing lawsuits and taking to trial if necessary.