Nicole entered the Macy’s department store at the Town Center of Aurora in January 2007. She was nearly 100 feet inside the store when she slipped and fell. Snow, ice and water had been tracked in from the snowy conditions outside. According to our client, the floors were an absolute mess. We were able to learn through discovery in litigation that, according to the cleaning company’s supervisor, they were experiencing an impossible time of keeping the floors clean during the 2006-2007 winter months. The location where Nicole fell was a “known problem area.” Nicole suffered a broken hand and serious injuries to her skull. She had an immediate headache due to her closed head injury. Unfortunately, the head injury was actually more serious than originally believed. An underlying chiari malformation at the back of her skull, which had been asymptomatic her entire life was now a major problem. She eventually required fossa decompression surgery and significant follow up care. She has not been able to return to work fully since 2007.
After more than a year of litigation, our client reached a non-confidential settlement with Macy’s for $650,000.
Premises liability is often a complex area of the law which defendants fight vigorously. In Colorado, a premises liability statute governs the responsibilities of property owners. Property owners are responsible for injuries people sustained while visiting their properties if the property owner knew or should have known of a dangerous condition. The level of the duty owed by the property owner depends upon the status of the person coming onto the property. In the case of our client, Nicole, she was considered an “invitee” for purposes of the premises liability statute. Because she was at the store as a shopper for the benefit for the property owner (Macy’s), she was owed the highest duty of care. In decreasing order of care owed, individuals may be considered “licensees” or “trespassers” to a property are owed the lowest duty of care by the property owner, which certainly makes sense. As in the case of our client, the injured person may decide to file a lawsuit against the property owner in order to receive fair compensation for their injuries, medical expenses, and non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, inconvenience, and loss of enjoyment of life.
The typical premises liability case involves either a slip and fall, trip and fall, or falling merchandise event. Although not all such incidents rise to the level of the property owner being responsible to the injured person, there was no question that Nicole should not have experienced water and slush tracked in from snow in the parking lot, especially since the tiled floors of the store were a mess 100 feet inside the vestibule doors. In our opinion, Macy’s placement of weather mats for wiping feet was grossly inefficient, and sufficient staff was not provided to keep the floors clean. The unrelenting efforts of the attorneys at the Law Office of Shawn E. McDermott, LLC, resulted in our discovery of valuable information, documents, and testimony which supported Nicole’s claims that Macy’s actually knew of the problem for several weeks prior to our client’s fall, yet did nothing to correct the problem.
*Client’s identity may have been changed to protect their individual rights.
*Notice: the outcome of the case described above is unique to that particular case. The results of any case will differ depending upon the facts.