A Hartford Superior Court jury awarded $113,000 to a Farmington dentist who slipped and fell from a moldy and slippery wooden ramp at her business.
But after four and a half hours of deliberation on March 21, the six-person jury also found that Monique Nadeau was 30 percent at fault. That comparative fault finding reduced her award to $80,500.
Nadeau suffers from carpal tunnel syndrome because of the fall in November 2014, according to her October 2016 lawsuit.
At the crux of the case was whether the wooden ramp at the commercial property at 320 Main St. in Farmington had been inspected before the fall.
Nadeau’s attorney, Amita Rossetti of Tinley, Renehan & Dost, said the case turned in large part on testimony from Scott Burleigh, who was in charge of inspections for property owner and defendant Tick Mark Realty.
The inspector told the jury he drove by and looked at the wooden ramp on a daily basis and would fix it if he saw anything that looked unsafe. Tick Mark Realty is located near Farmington Village Dental Associates.
“The only problem with Scott Burleigh’s statement was that he only walked on the ramp once or twice in 10 years,” said Rossetti, who noted it’s not clear when the wooden ramp was last inspected before the fall.
Nadeau, 45, was walking down the wooden ramp from the main entrance of her business when she slipped and fell, Rossetti said. “She fell and put her hands out to break the fall, and she broke her right wrist.”
Doctors had to set Nadeau’s bones twice because the first alignment failed to correct the injury.
“She was in a cast for three months, followed by a splint for one month,” Rossetti said. “Because her arm was stationary, she developed symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome and tennis elbow.”
The pain lingers today, and Nadeau might soon need carpal tunnel syndrome surgery, according to her attorney.
Nadeau incurred $14,522 in medical expenses.
Rossetti said that in addition to the mold that caused its slipperiness, the ramp was not slip-resistant, as required by the state’s building code.
“There were also no graspable hand railings, which were also in violation of the building code,” Rossetti said.
Jennifer Booker, a partner with Halloran & Sage in Hartford, represented Tick Mark Realty. She did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
Booker has until April 10 to appeal the verdict. Rossetti doubts there will be an appeal, saying, “I don’t see what they can appeal on.”
The jury’s finding followed a two-day trial before Hartford Superior Court Judge Jane Scholl.
Rossetti said since the fall, Tick Mark Realty has installed a hand railing and traction-enhanced products to make the ramp safer.
The jury also awarded Nadeau’s husband Eric Krause $1,400 on the couple’s loss of consortium claim.
Tick Mark Realty’s insurance carrier, Massachusetts-based Quincy Mutual, will pay the award.