Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

Federal judge sends slip and fall case back to state court

Although the following case did not take place in Pittsburgh, we felt that it was one that our personal injury blog readers would find interesting because of the unique procedural road it has taken. Recently, the federal judge overseeing a premises liability lawsuit decided to remand the case back to the state and county in which it was filed after the plaintiff agreed that she would not seek more than $35,000 in damages. The lawsuit, which was first filed last June, was removed to federal court by the defendant in November.

The slip and fall lawsuit was filed in connection with a June 2010 incident at a Target retail store. According to the suit, the plaintiff was shopping with her husband and infant son when she stepped into liquid that was on the floor, slipped and fell, injuring her right leg. The plaintiff is a cancer survivor who has a prosthetic right knee, so the fall created a significant potential for further permanent injury to her leg.

In her lawsuit, the plaintiff states that Target had a duty to maintain its business premises in a reasonably safe condition for its shoppers, and that its negligence in inspecting and properly maintaining the floor created an unsafe situation. Because of the defendant's failure to keep its store safe and to warn shoppers of the dangerous conditions, it is responsible for the plaintiff's injuries, her lawsuit claims.

For some reason, the doctor that performed the plaintiff's knee replacement was not willing to testify about her condition. This significantly reduced her potential to receive damages, as she has only incurred about $10,000 in medical bills thus far. So, in order to remand the case back to state court, she signed a stipulation in which she agreed that she would not be eligible to receive more than $35,000 in damages, and that she would remit any damages awarded in excess of that amount back to Target.

With that stipulation, both parties agreed that the case belonged in state court.

Source: West Virginia Record, "Plaintiff in slip-and-fall agrees to limit on recovery," John O'Brien, Dec. 31, 2012

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