White v. Westover Companies
Date of Verdict: Oct. 1.
Court and Case No.: C.P. Chester No. 15-07651.
Judge: Edward Griffith.
Type of Action: Slip-and-fall, negligence.
Injuries: Ankle fracture.
Plaintiffs Counsel: Donna A. Casasanto and Alfred V. Altopied, Law Offices of Alfred V. Altopied, Springfield.
Defense Counsel: James Palmer of Palmer & Barr, Willow Grove; William Hofmann, Bennett Bricklin & Saltzburg, Blue Bell.
A Chester County, Pennsylvania, trial has resulted in an award of about $1.275 million for a man who suffered a broken ankle on Thanksgiving night 2014 in an icy parking lot outside his apartment.
A jury in late September said the plaintiff, Michael G. White, suffered $1.275 million in damages. It also found 94 percent liability on the part of the companies that owned and managed the building and 6 percent against the company that had been contracted to perform snow and ice removal. The trial before Chester County Court of Common Pleas Judge Edward Griffith took eight days, and the jury deliberated about 12 hours, according to an attorney for White.
Donna A. Casasanto of the Law Offices of Alfred V. Altopiedi, who was second-chair for the plaintiffs, with Alfred V. Altopiedi serving as lead counsel, said the jury was likely swayed by the conflicting accounts given by employees of the management company that seemed to fault each other.
“Either way, it was [the] Westover [Companies]. Westover knew of this condition and didn’t prevent it,” she said. “There was plenty of time to prevent it.”
According to White’s complaint, the Westover Companies managed the Paoli Place Apartments, where the fall occurred, and Limes Associates owned the property. Emico Inc. had been retained to provide the ice and snow removal.
White’s complaint said that at about 10:30 p.m. Nov. 27, 2014, he was returning to his apartment, carrying leftovers from Thanksgiving dinner. The complaint said there was snow and ice on the driveway and parking area, and White eventually slipped and fell, sustaining a displaced, bimalleolar fracture.
According to Casasanto, White was immediately driven to a hospital, and, a few days later, he underwent surgery that included having screws and plates installed in his ankle. A few years later he underwent a second surgery to have the hardware removed, and, Casasanto said White is expected to require future surgeries.
White, who was in his mid-40s and working in retail at the time, sued for negligence, and sought punitive damages.
According to the complaint, the property manager for Westover and Limes received a text from a tenant about 90 minutes before the fall, saying the parking lot was “a sheet of ice.” The complaint said the manager sent a text to the employee who was in charge of maintenance, but he “intentionally ignored” the request “because it was the Thanksgiving holiday.”
The defendants contended in a pretrial memo that the premises were not defective, and noted that White had said the parking lot had been wet when he fell. The defendants also contended that the area had been previously plowed and salted, and there had been no notice about the allegedly dangerous condition.
According to Casasanto, the defendants also disputed the amount of White’s claimed life care plan, and also contended that there had been gaps in White’s treatment.
Both James Palmer of Palmer & Barr, who represented The Westover Companies and Limes Associates, and Bennett, Bricklin & Saltzburg attorney William Hofmann, who represented Emico, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
—Max Mitchell, of the Law Weekly