Date of Award: September 14.

Court and Case No.: C.P. Philadelphia No. 110901641.

Arbitrators: Charles A. Jones Jr., Jamie K. McMahon, Michael A. Rowe.

Type of Action: Premises liability.

Injuries: Back and neck sprain and strain.

Plaintiffs Counsel: David N. Rubin, the Law Office of Rubin & Rubin, Philadelphia.

Plaintiffs Experts: Dr. William Beatie, orthopedic surgery, Philadelphia.

Defense Counsel: Sharlenn E. Pratt, Zarwin Baum DeVito Kaplan Schaer Toddy, Philadelphia.

Comment: On September 20, 2009, plaintiff Kim Jeter, a daycare owner, was descending the stairwell at the Greater Bibleway Temple of the Lord Jesus Christ of the Apostolic Faith, located at 5188 Bible Way in West Philadelphia.

Jeter claimed that as she walked down the stairs, the heel of her shoe got caught inside a crack on one of the stairs, causing her to pitch forward and fall down the remaining stairs.

Jeter, who was treated for sprain-and-strain injuries to her back and neck following the accident, sued the church for premises liability. (An entity identified as SS Overbrook LP was also named as a defendant, but later stipulated out of the case; VerdictSearch was not able to determined the nature of the claim against SS Overbrook.)

Counsel for Jeter ultimately praeciped for default judgment against Greater Bibleway on the grounds that the church did not respond to the complaint.

The case proceeded to an arbitration as to causation- and damages-related issues.

Following the fall, Jeter was taken by ambulance from the church to Mercy Hospital, where she was admitted and hospitalized for the next five days. During that time, Jeter was diagnosed with strains and sprains to her neck and lower back, a contusion to her left knee, and a sprained right ankle. She received pain medication and physical therapy.

Upon discharge, Jeter continued physical therapy for roughly six months, during which time she underwent facet injections to her lumbar spine. No further treatment was administered. Her suit sought to recover past medical expenses totaling approximately $40,000.

During arbitration, Jeter’s attorney cited a medical report by a treating orthopedic surgeon, who attributed Jeter’s injuries and subsequent treatment to the accident.

Jeter testified that the side effects of her injuries forced her to close her daycare center, as she was unable to operate her business during her treatment. (However, her suit did not include a claim for wage loss.)

Jeter claimed that she continues to experience ongoing pain and discomfort in the affected areas, most notably in her lower back and left knee. Her suit also sought unspecified amounts of non-economic damages, for past and future pain and suffering.

— This report first appeared in VerdictSearch Pennsylvania, a publication of ALM. •