SUPREME COURT: SUFFOLK COUNTY – DEFENSE VERDICT
The weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas are rarely a good time for defense counsel to try a case involving serious personal injuries. Jurors in the “holiday spirit” are less likely to hold a plaintiff accountable for their own actions then if the case were tried in January when the holiday bills are due and payable. Nevertheless with the recent stress put on standards and goals dates in Suffolk County, Curtis Sobel was directed to try this bifurcated matter and did so successfully to a defense verdict.
The underlying action arose out of an incident which occurred in the client’s home. The plaintiff claimed to have tripped and fallen due to a hole in the rug of the client’s living room. She further claimed that she both observed the hole on prior visits but that she specifically complained to the insured about same being a “tripping” hazard. For his part, the insured admitted to knowledge of the threadbare condition of the rug long prior to the date of loss.
In this bifurcated trial , issues relating to the admissibility of alcohol consumption, photographic evidence of the condition of the rug, prior actual notice all took center stage. The testimony at trial in large part confirmed all facts uncovered through discovery. However, the photographic evidence was so minimal that the jury found it insufficient to establish the true nature and size of the defect.
After briefly deliberating, the juror returned a unanimous verdict in favor of the defendant. Given the severe injuries sustained by the plaintiff requiring multiple surgical procedures, a six figure verdict was highly likely had they ruled otherwise.