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November 2021

Partner Don Derrico Secures Defense Verdict in Personal Injury Matter

Westchester and Buffalo Office Managing Partner, Donald Derrico, and Senior Counsel Jason Scott secured a defense verdict related to a trip and fall case involving serious orthopedic injuries which included two surgeries. Derrico was requested to step in and try the case after the matter did not settle at mediation.

The plaintiff alleges that as she was leaving a Bingo Hall located in a building owned and maintained by the firm's client, she tripped and fell over a concrete parking stop in the parking lot. The accident occurred at 10 p.m. The plaintiff alleged that the parking lights were not on when she fell and that the parking stop was misaligned. As a result, the plaintiff sustained a severely displaced fracture to the pelvis and hip which required surgical repair. One year later the plaintiff had a total hip replacement performed.

The plaintiff produced at trial two non-party witnesses who testified that on the date of the accident the parking lights were not on and the parking stops were not visible. Further, the non-party witnesses testified that the lights were rarely on at night and the parking stops had been misaligned for months.

Three pictures were taken the night of the accident by the co-defendant who operated the Bingo Hall. Unfortunately, the person who took the photos passed away and was never deposed. Only two of the three photos were exchanged in discovery by prior counsel and admitted into evidence by the Judge. The third photo, that wasn’t exchanged, revealed the lights were on in the area where plaintiff fell. The plaintiff refused to stipulate that third photo into evidence. Plaintiff argued the photo that wasn’t exchanged in discovery and there was nobody to authenticate that the photo was taken on the date of the accident. The Judge agreed. Derrico was able to lay a foundation for admission of the photo with the final witness who testified. Based upon the testimony of the final witness the Judge reversed his prior decision and the photo was admitted into evidence. Derrico cited plaintiff’s deposition testimony wherein she testified that she never looked down before she fell and that she knew the parking stop was there. Further, Derrico argued that the parking lot light was on where the plaintiff fell and that the plaintiff’s car was wider that the parking stop and that no portion of it would have been sticking out unless plaintiff improperly parked her car. Finally, Derrico argued that despite the allegation that the lights were infrequently on, the owner never received any complaints.

The plaintiff demanded three million dollars to settle the case and refused to negotiate. After sixteen minutes of deliberation the jury returned a defense verdict.   

Donald G. Derrico
Jason C. Scott