Premises Liability Verdicts & Summaries

Defective Handicap Ramp Settlement – $275,000 (plus installation of a new ADA compliant ramp)

A 66-year-old retired client was injured (non-surgical neck injury and concussion) while attempting to assist his wheelchair dependent spouse exit a commercial building via a handicap ramp. An investigation by the Butler Law Group revealed that the ramp did not meet the minimum standards required by the ADA, Fla ADA or the Florida Building Code. Howard Butler Esquire filed suit and established during discovery that the building owner knew of the defect and chose not to rectify the same after several occasions though legally obligated to do so. In 2012 the building owner demolished the non-handicap accessible entrance and installed a new ADA compliant ramp with proper slope, flat landings and handrails as required. Shortly before trial they then settled the case for nearly eight times their final offer at mediation.

Inadequate Security and Defective Alarm System – $26,900,000 Verdict

The plaintiff, a female bank teller, was shot and left paralyzed during a robbery. Extensive pre-trial investigation and work with a nationally renowned jury consultant led to a winning defective alarm system theory. Ray Bodiford in consultation with Howard Butler participated in mock jury sessions prior to Bodiford and a partner going to trial in Lake County Florida.

Husband and Father of 3 Killed During Convenience Store Robbery – $1.5 Million Settlement

Plaintiff, a 36-year old male had worked for a privately owned convenience store for approximately 6 years. While working one afternoon, the store was robbed by two assailants. During the robbery, the Decedent was shot and killed as he stood behind the register. Discovery revealed that notwithstanding multiple criminal incidents within the adjacent neighborhood, the cash register enclosure did not include bulletproof glass, a cash drop box, appropriate surveillance cameras or a hidden alarm, all in violation of applicable state statutes. Also, the insurance carrier for the owner of the store denied insurance coverage and Plaintiffs were forced to seek declaratory relief concerning insurance coverage. During the litigation of both cases, the Defendants requested mediation and on behalf of the widow and three children, a policy limits settlement was obtained.

Fall from Ladder during Training Exercise Results in Multiple Fractures – $1 Million Settlement (Policy Limits)

Plaintiff, a 24-year-old wife, and mother, had spent nearly five years preparing for a career as an EMT/Paramedic. She had worked at Baptist Beaches Medical Center and attended classes part-time as she obtained the various certifications necessary to realize her dream employment. Duval County paramedics are required to complete basic firefighter training in order to ride rescue so she registered for the Basic Firefighting Course (Minimum Standards Class) being taught at St. Augustine Technical Institute in St. Johns County. Many of the students had no experience whatsoever in ladders, ropes or other basic firefighting techniques. During the students’ very first ladder training exercise they were directed to wear full bunker gear and taken to a nearby field. There a number of students were ordered to retrieve and carry a 35 foot, 175-pound ground ladder to a designated spot where it was to be suspended straight upward using four ropes tied to the top of the ladder for support. Two students were placed at the base of the ladder and one student on each of the four ropes while students took turns climbing up and over the top of the ladder in their 25-pound bunker gear. During Plaintiff’s climb, 2 males were holding the ropes on one side and 2 females on the other side. One of the females was approximately 5’2″ and 100 pounds.

Not surprisingly, the smaller female student was unable to hold the additional weight and the ladder fell causing multiple high impact injuries to Plaintiff as she fell and struck the hard ground. Liability (Fault) was denied and a lawsuit was filed by Howard Butler of Ossi, Butler, Najem & Rosario. Discovery revealed that the head instructor was aware that this advanced, controversial and dangerous maneuver served no practical purpose but chose to include it in the curriculum so as to “build confidence.” Investigation revealed were no safety nets, padding or any type of designated safe landing area utilized. In fact, there were numerous potential hazards within striking distance of the designated location for the subject ladder.

The case ultimately settled for the policy limits of $1 million.

Female Customer Trips on Unsecured Skateboard Left in the Aisle of Toy Store Resulting in Multiple Injuries – $925,189.97 Verdict ($125,000 pre-trial offer)

The defense argued that the store was not negligent, that the accident was a result of the Plaintiff’s negligence and that her injuries if any, pre-existed the fall. Howard Butler, Esquire took the case to trial. Evidence presented established that Defendant’s policy regarding skateboards was unreasonably dangerous and that the Plaintiff’s view of the skateboard was “camouflaged” in the store’s environment. Numerous medical exhibits were used to prove a substantial aggravation of pre-existing conditions and loss of quality of life.

*Schmoldt PowerPoint, Verdict Form, and Jury Verdict Reporter Summary

Plaintiff’s Trip and Fall at Local Restaurant Results in Development of RSD in Lower Limb – $725,000 Settlement

The plaintiff was injured when she tripped and fell as she was descending a small stairwell located within a restaurant owned by a national chain. As she was descending the stairs, her foot became caught on a piece of protruding molding. The fall resulted in a sprain of her knee and ankle. This condition worsened and the Plaintiff ultimately developed reflex sympathetic nerve dystrophy (RSD) in the lower limb. At the time of the incident, the Plaintiff was employed by a local company working in the information technology department where she was a highly respected long-time employee. Because of her injuries, she was unable to continue with her employment.

During the course of discovery, it was determined that the restaurant had known of the previous problems concerning stair molding and Plaintiff’s experts had determined that the stairwell violated multiple aspects of local building codes. The defense claimed that the Plaintiff had a propensity to fall as she had fallen some three times within the previous 3 years causing injury to her lower limbs. Also, the defense argued that the Plaintiff was comparatively negligent in not noticing a defect in the molding and was the only individual who had fallen notwithstanding that 8 to 10 of her co-employees had descended the stairwell along with her. As a result of multiple mediations, a settlement was obtained.

Case Summaries


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Toll-Free: 844-HELP-BLG
Phone: 904-398-2308
Fax: 904-398-3000

Jacksonville Office
Butler Law Group
1506 Prudential Dr.
Jacksonville, FL 32207