Party hosts: Any moisture on floor was hiddent defect
|Dangerous Condition, Premises Liability - Invitees, Premises Liability - Social Host Liability, Slips, Trips & Falls - Slip and Fall|
|Tatiana Arnaldl v. Laudi and Doris Arnaldi, No. MID-L-2474-10|
|Middlesex County Superior Court, NJ|
|Richard F. Plechner
- F. Kevin Lynch; Law Offices of F Kevin Lynch; East Brunswick, NJ, for Tatiana Larina
- Donald Thornton; Law Offices of Doreen M. Ryan; Cranford, NJ, for Laudi Arnaldi, Doris Arnaldi
- Allstate for both defendants
On Dec. 24, 2009, plaintiff Tatiana Larina, 43, was attending a Christmas Eve party at the Matawan home of her friends the Arnaldis when she fell to the floor while in the residence's basement. Larina claimed she fell after slipping on a wet patch of the basement floor; she suffered a fractured ankle, and had open reduction surgery on Christmas Day.
Larina sued the Arnaldis for negligence, contending that the accumulated moisture on the basement floor constituted an open and notorious dangerous condition. (Due to an apparent error in the court's docketing system, the plaintiff's surname is listed as an incorrect spelling of the defendants' surname.)
The defendants denied negligence and argued that any moisture that may have accumulated amounted to a hidden defect that was as observable to Larina as it was to them.
Court-mandated arbitration proceedings ended with a $150,000 damages assessment, but 50 percent fault was attributed to Larina, resulting in a $75,000 total arbitration award. The defense appealed, and obtained a trial de novo.
Following the accident, Larina was treated for a bimalleolar ankle fracture, and underwent open reduction surgery involving the insertion of stabilizing hardware.
A treating orthopedic surgeon testified by video that Larina had healed fairly well, but would have some permanent limitation of ankle function and range of motion. There were also permanent surgical scars on the ankle, it was claimed.
An orthopedic surgery expert retained by the defense who examined Larina prior to trial arrived at conclusions similar to those of the plaintiff's expert. The defense expert did not testify at trial.
The jury found that the Arnaldis had not been negligent with respect to Larina's accident.
This report is based on information that was provided by plaintiff's counsel. Defense counsel declined to contribute.