verdicts-and-settlements-article

Moore v. Ottey

Defense Verdict

Date of Verdict: March 14.

Court and Case No.: C.P. Montgomery County, No. 2015-21419.

Judge:  Jeffrey S. Saltz.

Type of Action: Workplace safety.

Injuries: Ankle fracture.

Plaintiffs Counsel: Michael S. Levin, Adams Renzi Law, Philadelphia.

Plaintiffs Expert: Michael Troiano, podiatry, Philadelphia.

Defense Counsel: Gregory F. Mondjack Sr., Law Offices of Kenneth S. O’Neill, Philadelphia.

Comment:

On Nov. 16, 2013, plaintiff Aaron Moore, a laborer in his mid-40s, was working on the roof of a residence at 28 Church Road, in Plymouth Meeting.

Moore and two others had been hired by homeowner Thomas Ottey to replace shingles on his roof. Moore asserted that the ladder had initially been positioned in front of the house near its concrete walkway, but unbeknownst to him, Ottey had moved it. When Moore descended the ladder, it collapsed, which caused him to fall and land on his left ankle, fracturing it.

Moore sued Ottey, alleging that he was negligent in moving the ladder. He also sued Ottey’s wife, who was dismissed prior to trial.

Moore and two of his two co-workers testified that, although they did not see Ottey move the ladder, they did not move it, and that it had originally been positioned in a stable fashion and they were able to ascend and descend without incident.

Moore also testified that when he initially ascended the ladder it was secure and stable. His counsel argued that the fact that the ladder was not secure and stable as Moore descended it indicated that Ottey had improperly repositioned the equipment, because Ottey had been in the area of the ladder to observe the work shortly before the incident. Additionally, the ladder had been positioned in a manner that blocked his access to the driveway, where the ladder was situated, from his front walkway.

Moore’s counsel cited Ottey’s deposition testimony in which he denied having the seen the ladder prior to the accident; however, Ottey acknowledged that, during Moore’s deposition, which immediately preceded his, he wrote a note to his wife mentioning the ladder and its location. Moore’s counsel argued that Ottey’s willfully false testimony was grounds for rejecting his testimony in its entirety.

Ottey denied that he moved the ladder. His counsel argued that circumstantial evidence was not enough to prove that Ottey moved the ladder, since Moore or his co-workers did not actually see him move it.

Moore was taken by his son to an emergency room, where he was diagnosed with a left talus fracture. He was admitted and had open reduction and internal fixation surgery, in which three screws were implanted.

In the ensuing weeks, Moore’s foot remained in a cast and later in a walking boot. He remained non-weight-bearing and followed up with his surgeon. No further treatment was rendered, and he sought to recover a Department of Public Welfare lien of $6,600.

Moore’s expert in podiatry testified that Moore is likely to develop post-traumatic arthritis in his ankle which will require potential arthroscopy and a possible joint fusion.

Moore testified that experiences daily residual pain and stiffness in his ankle. He claimed that he feels it most acutely during and after working, which requires him to stand all day.

Moore sought damages for past and future pain and suffering, and his wife sought damages for a claim for loss of consortium.

Ottey’s expert in orthopedic surgery, who examined Moore, testified that there were no signs that he would develop post-traumatic arthritis, and the expert disputed that Moore requires future treatment.

This report is based on information that was provided by plaintiffs counsel. Defense counsel declined to contribute.

—This report first appeared on VerdictSearch, an ALM publication