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August 2017

Partner Don Derrico Obtains Defense Verdict in Up State New York Slip and Fall Case

On August 18, 2017 Gordon & Rees New York Partner Don Derrico obtained a unanimous defense verdict in a slip and fall case in Saratoga County Supreme Court. After a private mediation failed and just one month before trial, Derrico was asked to step in and try the case.

The plaintiff, a Federal Express driver, alleged that conditions outside a Staples store in an up state New York shopping center caused him to slip and fall on ice. The plaintiff alleged that the condition existed for at least 48 hours prior to the accident and that the property owner and snow removal contractor failed to remediate the condition. As a result, the plaintiff sustained several lumbar herniations which resulted in three back surgeries. The plaintiff did not return to work after the accident and demanded $12.5 million to settle the case.  While both the plaintiff and his co-worker testified that he slipped and fell on ice, Derrico was able to undermine the credibility of the plaintiff by showing that his version of the accident differed from his co-workers in terms of how and where the accident occurred.

The plaintiff called an expert meteorologist who opined that the ice existed for at least 48-50 hours prior to the accident and was the result of improper piling of snow and ice against the building which resulted in a melting and refreeze across the sidewalk. Derrico countered the plaintiff’s expert by successfully offering into evidence the snow removal contractor's extensive records which established that 10 hours prior to the accident he had applied calcium chloride to the sidewalk in question and that it had been snowing for at least 10 to 15 minutes before the accident occurred.  After 45 minutes of deliberations the jury returned a unanimous defense verdict.

Donald G. Derrico