Holland v. Temple Episcopal Hospital

Defense Verdict

Date of Verdict: Feb. 9.

Court and Case No.: C.P. Philadelphia No. 160603358.

Judge: Charles J. Cunningham III.

Type of Action: Premises liability.

Injuries: Back sprain, strain.

Plaintiffs Counsel: Sean P. Stephens, Sean P. Stephens, Attorney at Law, Philadelphia.

Plaintiffs Expert: Bruce Lizerbram, family medicine; Philadelphia.

Defense Counsel: Joseph W. Petka, Goldberg, Miller & Rubin, Philadelphia.


On Feb. 13, 2015, Felice Holland, 58, a government worker, was leaving Temple Episcopal Hospital, at 100 E. Lehigh Ave., in Philadelphia. As she was walking through the hospital’s parking lot she slipped and fell on a patch of ice. She landed on her back and claimed injuries to her neck and back.

Holland sued the hospital and hospital owner Temple University, alleging that they were negligent in allowing a dangerous condition to exist on the premises.

Holland’s counsel asserted that the hospital’s failure to clear the patches of ice in its parking lot breached its duties to Holland, a business invitee. Holland had eaten lunch at the hospital and was walking back to her job, which was located across the street, when the accident occurred.

Several hospital employees testified about the great lengths the hospital went to in order to keep the campus safe during the winter. A groundskeeper and security guards made regular inspections of the property, and salt was kept by each doorway of the hospital.

The hospital contended that it remained vigilant in trying to identify patches of ice during the winter, and that requiring a property to be free of snow and ice at all times was an impossible standard.

The hospital maintained that Holland a duty to pay attention to where she was walking and that she was negligent herself, for failing to see the patch of ice before walking on it.

On Feb. 23, Holland, complaining of pain to her neck and back, presented to a rehabilitation facility, where she treated with physical therapy, including massage, through July 19.

During that time, Holland treated with a family-medicine physician, who, via MRIs, diagnosed her with aggravation of a pre-existing herniation at cervical intervertebral disc C6-7, aggravation of a pre-existing bulge at lumbar disc L1-2, aggravation of pre-existing protrusions at L3-4 and L4-5, cervical and lumbar strains and sprains and a thoracic sprain. She was also diagnosed with lumbar radiculopathy. No further treatment was administered, and Holland sought to recover $4,753 in outstanding medical costs.

Holland’s family medicine physician causally related her injuries and treatment to the accident. The physician rated her prognosis as guarded and said she was likely to suffer exacerbations and incur future medical expenses.

Holland testified that she still has neck and back pain with activity, and she feels weaker than she had before the fall. She sought damages for past and future pain and suffering.

Temple maintained that the fall was not the factual cause of Holland’s injuries, as she had alleged similiar injuries int he past as the result of motor-vehicle accidents.

The jury found Holland was 91 percent liable and Temple was 9 percent liable. Under Pennsylvania law, which bars recovery of damages if a plaintiff is 51 percent or more at fault, Holland was denied damages.

This report is based on information that was provided by defense counsel. Plaintiffs counsel did not respond to calls for comment.

This report first appeared in VerdictSearch, an ALM publication