Conroy Simberg Attorneys Score Favorable Trial Verdict in Premises Liability Case

Posted in Verdicts and Settlements on April 20, 2018

Conroy Simberg partners Seth R. Goldberg and Cris A. Casal earned a favorable premises liability verdict in the case of James Kelly v. Sheila Shine, Inc. during a five-day jury trial in Miami-Dade County.

This case involved a fall from a staircase that occurred on the defendant’s property in January of 2014. The plaintiff fell while descending a staircase that was missing a step while he was in the course and scope of his employment.  Plaintiff claimed to suffer injuries to his left shoulder, right knee, and neck.  The defendant admitted fault for the accident prior to the start of trial and the only issues for the jury to determine were whether the entirety of the injuries and treatment were related to the accident.  The defendant disputed that the plaintiff’s torn rotator cuff, torn meniscus, and aggravation to his neck condition were related to the fall.  The Plaintiff underwent surgeries to his left shoulder and right knee and had extensive treatment to his neck that included trigger point injections.  The Plaintiff also claimed a substantial past and future wage loss claim due to his inability to work and make sales since he was 100% dependent on commissions.  He demanded more than $1,000,000 in damages during closing argument.

The plaintiff’s case began to turn during the last few months prior to the start of trial during the course of taking discovery and trial preservation depositions. The defense team traveled to depose the plaintiff’s best client in Tennessee who confirmed that he was unaware of any injury that he had sustained and attributed the loss in sales to reasons unrelated to the fall.  The defendant traveled to New Jersey to depose the CFO of the plaintiff’s employer and he acknowledged that there had been no changes or modifications made to plaintiff’s work environment and no special accommodations were needed for him.  The plaintiff’s orthopedic surgeon was caught changing his opinions on the need for a total knee replacement in the future that he previously testified to not needing without there being any change in his patient’s condition.  The plaintiff’s economist changed his opinions three times based on information uncovered by defense counsel while taking discovery depositions.  Each time that his opinion changed, the number being offered by the plaintiff’s economist continued to dwindle and become smaller.  Ultimately, the jury began to realize that the plaintiff was not being completely truthful and forthcoming as to his background, his condition, and his treatment history.  They also questioned his need for additional treatment and care in the future.  It appeared the jury clearly did not believe that he was not capable of returning to work and any drop off in his income was due to reasons other than the physical limitations from his fall. 

The defense team offered the plaintiff $400,000 on the last day of trial right before closing arguments. Following deliberations, the jury awarded a total of $192,676.00. However, the panel failed to award any sum for future loss of earning capacity and future pain and suffering which were key components of the damages being demanded. 

The defense also served the plaintiff a Proposal for Settlement for $300,000.00 several months before the trial. Because the plaintiff failed to recover within 25% of the offered amount, the defense team is now entitled to pursue recovery of attorneys’ fees.