Premises Liability Verdicts


When you've been injured on someone else's property, the property owner or manager may be responsible for your injuries. For instance, a property owner who fails to properly maintain a walkway may be liable if you trip and fall on broken concrete, or slip on ice that has been inadequately cleared away. Failure to maintain property can give rise to a variety of legal claims: swimming pool owners in some states are responsible for injuries or deaths in their pools if those pools were not adequately secured, and even natural hazards like dead trees may create liability if the owner was or should have been aware of the risks and failed to act.

Usually, homeowner's or business insurance covers the liability. If you've been injured on someone else's property, talk to a local personal injury attorney to find out who is responsible.*

*Results taken from recent news articles. Results not typical. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

Jury Awards $300,000 in Gym Lawsuit

A jury recently awarded a former Navy man $300,000 for injuries he sustained after undergoing a "CrossFit" workout program. He alleged that the regimen left him disabled because it caused leg muscles to break down.

The CrossFit workout routine, which wasn't named as a defendant in the suit, is popular in law enforcement training and has been viewed as a "dangerously intense" exercise routine.

The 29-year-old man sued his gym, the training program owners and the former employee that oversaw the CrossFit workout. The jury found that all three defendants were liable.

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$725,000 Settlement to Man Struck by Golf Ball Launched by Mower Near Golf Course

A New Jersey man who had glass embedded in his eye when an errant golf ball struck the windshield of his car received a settlement of $725,000 from defendants in his personal injury lawsuit. According to the lawsuit, the golf ball was launched into his car by a mower after it landed on the lawn of a homeowner who lived near the Eagle Oaks Golf and Country Club. The man's suit alleges that the country club was negligent in not setting up netting to prevent stray golf balls from leaving the course, and that the lawn care service responsible for mowing the lawn was negligent in not properly checking the yard before mowing the grass. The man suffered a cut cornea in the incident.

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$21 Million to Rhode Island Nightclub Fire Survivors

Two more companies, Anheuser-Busch Inc. and McLaughlin & Moran, a Rhode Island beer distributor, have joined in the parade of settlements over the lawsuits stemming from the February 2003 fire at The Station concert venue in West Warwick, Rhode Island. The lawsuits were filed over negligence by various companies involved with the production and promotion of the show featuring rock band Great White. Pyrotechnics in the band's set caused a fire that killed more than a hundred people and injured many more. Anheuser-Busch and McLaughlin & Moran were implicated in the negligence for promoting the concert that led to the deaths and injuries of many.

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$4.3 Million to Volunteer Requiring Amputation after Accident at Church

A jury from Northampton County, Pennsylvania awarded $4.3 million to a man whose leg required amputation after being injured at a church where he was doing volunteer work. Jay Benfield was a member of St. John's United Church of Christ in Nazareth, Pennsylvania, volunteered to install phone lines and equipment at the church; he attempted to move a pile of drywall stacked by employees of CC Inc. Construction Services when it pinned him on the ground, leaving him trapped for 12 hours before workers found him. The jury determined that CC Construction was 70 percent responsible for the accident, Benfield himself was 10 percent responsible and a second contractor, Salukas Contracting Inc., was 20 percent responsible.

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$1 million for poorly designed driving range that led to eye damage

Florida resident Gaylon Jones settled a lawsuit for $1 million with the Westchase Golf and Country Club near Tampa, Florida that was brought against the firm after Jones suffered permanent eye damage at the club's driving range. Jones related in the lawsuit that he had pointed out to the driving range starter that the granite markers used to divide up tee areas on the driving range were unsafe, after which his premonition came true as he struck an errant ball that ricocheted off a marker and hit him in the eye.

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New York City Man Receives $1 Million in Settlement for Shower Burns

An elderly man who was scalded by the water in his home shower and suffered second-degree burns on his groin and other parts of his body has settled a lawsuit for nearly $1 million. As 88-year-old Daniel Feliciano was showering in March 2004, the water in the shower suddenly became extremely hot, causing him to fall and the water to scald much of his body. Tests found that the water was 180 degrees. Much of the $1 million was ruled to be owed by Concourse Housing Corp., who owns the man's building; others paying are a plumbing company who was there to install a thermostat and a nursing agency whose employee was supposed to be helping the man bathe.

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Rhode Island Nightclub Settlement Finally Comes Through, $13.5 Million

In a story that made national headlines when it occurred in 2003, four of the companies sued by the families of 93 people killed in a nightclub fire in West Warwick, Rhode Island, have agreed to pay the plaintiffs a total settlement of $13.5 million. In the infamous club fire, a pyrotechnics display during a show by the band Great White ignited the club, which caused chaos to ensue, killing nearly 100 and injuring 200. Distributed equally among the plaintiffs, the award amount would be $45,000 per victim. The companies who took part in the settlement were Triton Realty Trust, which owned the building; the Celotex Corporation, which manufactured the soundproofing board at the club; Luna Tech Inc., the company that manufactured the pyrotechnics; and New England Custom Alarms, the company which had installed fire alarms.

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$3.7 million awarded for dog attack

A Florida jury recently awarded more than $3.7 million to a woman who was permanently injured in a brutal dog attack in Delray Beach. The jury found the city of Delray Beach to be 60 percent responsible for the damages. Allegedly, city officials had knowledge that two Rottweiler mix dogs owned by Keli Nowling were dangerous. The animal control officials had received several complaints that the vicious dogs were running loose on prior occasions, but had done little to ensure the dogs were effectively restrained. Nowling was responsible for the remaining damages to Marguene St. Juste, whose right arm was rendered almost useless by the attack.

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$900,000 for severed fingers

A man from Prince's Bay, New York recently settled on a $900,000 award after he had two fingers partially severed while sawing Plexiglas for an air-conditioner installation project at a high school seven years ago. Joseph Martelle reached the settlement two days after a jury found him 50 percent liable for his injuries. The agreement was reached prior to the start of the damages portion of the bifurcated trial.

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$16 Million awarded for diving accident

A Missouri jury recently awarded $16 million to a former Shawnee Mission Northwest student who was injured after diving into Lake Quivira in 2005. Quivira Inc., which owns the common areas in Lake Quivira, will have to pay about $15 million of the award, while Missouri Valley Pool Management Inc., which was hired to provide lifeguard services, is liable for the rest. Bradley Hudspeth flipped off the dock at the lake and broke his neck, unaware that there was less than four feet of water. While Hudspeth has some use of his arms, he has been diagnosed with quadriplegia and will be in a wheelchair the rest of his life. Allegedly, the two companies had not consistently enforced rules for diving off the dock due to a lack of "no diving" signs.

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$40,000 Settlement Costs Will Be Paid By School District For Playground Injury

Bloomfield School District will pay $40,000 in settlement costs for negligence and the insurance carrier for a Head Start program will also pay $40,000 to Christopher Haga's family. The four-year old boy fell off the playground equipment and needed one of his brain shunts repaired by a surgeon (he was born premature and had hydrocephalus). The district and preschool program were found negligent for not maintaining a safe playground and failing to supervise Christopher properly.

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$2.1 Million Verdict for Sexual Harassment at Special Olympics

One mentally challenged woman and one woman with Down's Syndrome were sexually molested in the parking lot during a Special Olympics event in Orange County Florida. In making the $2.1 million award, the court ruled the organizers should have done more to protect the women who were lured by James McDonald, 82, into the parking lot and then molested.

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Royal Caribbean Pays $1 Million to Estate of George Allen Smith

The estate of a Connecticut man whose mysterious death aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship has still not been solved has received a settlement from Royal Caribbean for $1 million. Jennifer Hagel Smith, wife of George Allen Smith, filed a lawsuit against the cruise company after her husband went missing in 2005 while on their honeymoon cruise. The couple had been reportedly drinking heavily the night before he was reported missing. A large blood stain, indicating a possible balcony fall, was found below the couple's cabin aboard Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas. Smith's disappearance made international headlines.

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$991,686 awarded for Rodeo contestant

A New Jersey jury awarded nearly a million dollars to a man who lost his left eye and sustained other injuries during a bull-riding event. The damages were originally calculated at $1.5 million, but the jury found the plaintiff to be 40% liable, since he'd been aware of the risks and had accepted the bull before the event.

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$25,000 awarded for dog bite

A Vermont mail carrier who was bitten by a German Shepherd while on her route as awarded $25,000 for injuries and scarring to her hand and leg. The award included $4,648 for past medical expenses and $5,000 for future medical expenses.

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$550,000 awarded for lost eyesight

A federal jury awarded a retired Indiana attorney $550,000 in connection with injuries sustained at a water park in 2003. Robert Miller, Sr. was injured when he reached for a flotation device to steady himself and the other end of the device popped upward, striking him in the eye and severing his retinal nerve. Miller's attorney had asked for $400,000 in his closing argument, but the jury returned a verdict of $150,000 more.

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$3.6 jury verdict for roller coaster injury

A Wisconsin woman who suffered a skull fracture and a broken nose when she was struck by an object while riding a roller coaster was awarded $3.6 million. Evidence at trial revealed that amusement park employees had warned park officials that people were throwing rocks at roller coaster riders, but inadequate security measures had been taken.

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$8 Million Settlement in Gas Explosion Case

Puget Sound Energy (PSE) agreed to pay $8 million to the family of a woman killed in a 2004 natural gas explosion. The victim's children agreed to settle the case after PSE committed to improved safety procedures, including a check of tens of thousands of steel pipes across western Washington.

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$1 million settlement in wrongful death case

Mitsuko Goddard received a $1 million settlement after her husband fell from a cliff and died while on vacation. Huelo Point Flower Farm settled with Goddard after questions arose regarding the vacation rental facility's responsibility to keep its guests safe from hazard. The rental was adjacent to the nearby cliff side where Stephen A. Goddard fell. Goddard's attorney claimed that stones and brush obscured the point at which the cliff fell off, creating a dangerous situation.

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$100,000 award in museum injury

St. Louis woman Gretchen Porro lost two fingers when she attempted to activate a water fountain attraction at a local museum. Porro tried to pull open a water tank to cool off with a splash of water, but was injured instead. The museum was closed at the time. While the jury valued the injury at a higher amount, it also determined that Porro bore most of the fault for her injury.

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$350,000 jury award in negligence case

A jury awarded Renee and Christopher Madeline Mirante a $350,000 award after a pharmacy negligently filled the wrong prescription for their child. Their 11-month-old daughter Madeline became ill and was hospitalized after taking the incorrectly distributed Prozac medication instead of what should have been Prilosec. The pharmacy admitted liability in the case.

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$25,000 settlement in bleacher injury

The mother of an injured boy received a $25,000 settlement from the Catholic Youth Center. Lynell Sbano will receive the settlement after her son Joseph Siewell suffered a closed head injury and a knee injury when a set of bleachers collapsed. Joseph fell about 8 feet when it happened. He was 7-years-old at the time of the accident.

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$45,000 in basketball accident settlement

The Trimble Local School District agreed to pay a former student $45,000 after the student sustained injuries during a school basketball practice. Coedee Rae Shaner received the settlement after she fell on a scissors lift beside the basketball court. When Shaner attempted to catch a ball out of bounds, she ran into the lift and injured herself.

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$5.98 million jury award after snorkeling death

The family of Michael Schuster received a $5.98 million verdict from a jury following Schuster's death while snorkeling at a Cancun resort. While on a cruise, Schuster took part in a snorkeling trip to the Xcaret resort in Cancun. While Schuster was snorkeling in an underground cave, a rock fell and struck him on the head, after which he died. Carnival Cruise Lines, which had suggested the excursion, previously settled with the family for an undisclosed sum.

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$1.95 million jury award after fire death

The relatives of a father and daughter killed in a house fire received a $1.95 million jury verdict. William Hackert, Jr., and his daughter Christine died in the fire that started when an electric cord set a couch on fire. First Alert, Inc., and BRK Brands, Inc., manufacturers and sellers of smoke detectors, are responsible for the sum after their smoke detectors failed to go off in the home.

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$400k to Campers Trapped in Wildfire

The U.S. federal government has agreed to pay $400k to a couple who were trapped in a wildfire while camping. Bruce and Paula Hagemeyer survived a 9,300 acre fire in a Washington national park by sharing a one-person aluminum fire shelter with a Forest Service employee. Thirteen other Forest Service employees were similarly trapped and four US Forest Service Firefighters were killed in the fire. In a lawsuit against the U.S. federal government, the couple alleged that the crew boss, Ellreese Daniels, failed to make arrangements to protect them while they waited for the fire to die out. Daniels was charged with manslaughter over the firefighter deaths. According to the Seattle Times, the couple has agreed to settle the lawsuit for $400k.

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$301,000 award in coffee shop injury

A New York City woman received a $301,000 jury verdict after her foot was burned in an accident at a neighborhood Starbucks coffee shop. Alice Griffin sustained second-degree burns and permanent nerve damage after a hot cup of coffee slid off of a counter and landed on her foot. Ordinarily Starbucks requires that coffee cups have a protective sleeve and a secured lid, and that they are never slid across a surface. The Starbucks clerk violated these rules, however, according to Griffin, causing the spill and subsequent injuries.

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$1.2 million settlement in amusement park death

The Lake Compounce Amusement Park in Bristol, Connecticut, agreed to pay a $1.2 million settlement to the mother of a six-year-old boy who died on one of the park's rides. Deven Alexander's inner tube flipped over as he rode on a water slide, and he was thrown into the park's lake. He died six days after the accident. Alexander's mother claimed that the park created an unsafe situation, and failed to recognize that the boy was too small to ride by himself or require that he wear a life jacket.

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$10,000 settlement in school injury case

A Missouri school district settled with the mother of a boy who was injured at school. The school district agreed to pay Katrina Tapp $10,000 after her son collided with another student during PE class, damaging his mouth and teeth. Tapp claimed that her son's injury was the result of insufficient supervision and a lack of protective equipment.

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