Slip-and-Fall Case - $3,000,000 Settlement | Joel H. Schwartz
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Slip and Fall Attorney Case

Fall – Urethral Disruption / Erectile Dysfunction of Penis – Fall Through Barn Door $3,000,000 payout

Reported in the Lawyers Weekly

In this case, the plaintiff was a 16 year old student. Tort action was brought against the trustees and professor of a prep school by the plaintiff. In October 1992 the plaintiff was babysitting the professor’s two children at the professor’s residence. The professor’s home was located near campus and was provided by the prep school institution.

The plaintiff was watching the two children, and playing in the barn which doubled as a squash court. Above the court was a gallery in which one of the two children was situated. At the time the child in the gallery cried out for the attention of the plaintiff. The plaintiff proceeded to climb the stairs, and searched for the door that led into the gallery. Lights were illuminating the court and the gallery, but not other parts of the barn. When the plaintiff opened the door, he saw light which he believed was coming from another door. At this time he proceeded forward, but there was no floor on the other side of the door. This led to a 12 foot fall. It appeared that the plaintiff stepped into a hay chute, and in turn fell on top of some furniture that was in storage.

The plaintiff contended that the defendant was at fault for not keeping a safe property which led to his accident. Even more so, the incident could have been avoided if the professor would have simply told the plaintiff that the barn was unsafe.

On the other side of things, counsel for the defense claimed that the plaintiff was liable because of his negligence in venturing around a barn that he was not familiar with.

As a result of the incident, both parties acknowledged that the plaintiff received significant injuries. After the fall, the plaintiff was diagnosed with fractures of the pubis, fracture of the distal coccyx, variable impotence, and erectile dysfunction. Due to these injuries, the plaintiff had to undergo several procedures. Even though the defendants agreed that the injuries were significant, they disputed the injuries would cause any permanent effects.

The injuries to the plaintiff were documented by an independent medical examiner. But even with that being said, the defendants brought in their own expert who argued that the plaintiff could resume normal sexual activity with non-invasive treatments. The plaintiff strongly disputed this.

During this case the school stated that since it was a nonprofit establishment, it was subject to a statutory cap of $20,000. The school carried an insurance policy of $1 million, and the professor $500,000. During litigation, the insurer for the professor declared action against the insurer for the school. They claimed that the professor’s insurance was to be used as a secondary policy to that of the school. This resulted in 10 hours of discussion between the two parties wherein the defendants could not reach an agreement.

The plaintiff’s counsel was concerned that the settlement could not exceed $520,000 due to the policy limits. For this reason, they moved forward in negotiations with the attorneys who were representing the insurance companies.

When the case was settled, the plaintiff received $600,000 in up front cash. In addition, an annuity of $3,466 per month for life was also given. This annuity has a 30 year guarantee attached to it.