Whitley v. Bailey

Defense Verdict

Date of Verdict: Oct. 27.

Court and Case No.: C.P. Montgomery 2015-30888.

Judge: Carolyn Tornetta Carluccio.

Type of Action: Premises Liability.

Injuries: Arm fracture.

Plaintiffs Counsel: Lawren J. Nelson; Edelstein Martin & Nelson; Philadelphia.

Plaintiffs Expert: David Glaser, orthopedic surgery, Philadelphia.

Defense Counsel:  James A. Godin, Palmer & Barr, Willow Grove.

Defense Expert:  Evan Kovalsky, orthopedic surgery, Norristown.


On the night of Dec. 8, 2013, plaintiff Suzanne Whitley, 67, a sales representative and administrative assistant, was walking her dog in Norristown. She was on Taft Road, a suburban residential street. When she was near number 3127, she slipped on a patch of ice and fell on her right hand as she extended it to brace her fall. She claimed injuries to her right wrist and shoulder.

Whitely sued property owners James and Colleen Bailey, alleging that they failed to adquately maintain their property. It had snowed that day from 1 to 5 p.m., and during the snowfall, James Bailey had shoveled snow from the sidewalk. In doing so, he allegedly exposed a patch of ice, according to Whitley’s counsel. Counsel further maintained that, in addition to shoveling snow, the Baileys had a duty to treat the ice, such as with salt, which they failed to do.

The Baileys’ counsel contended that, pursuant to a municipal ordinance, property owners were obligated to remediate their properties from snow and ice 24 hours after precipitation had stopped. Therefore, the Baileys had no duty to treat the snow and ice that had accumulated on their sidewalk.

Counsel for the Baileys also cited emergency-room records in which Whitley had told medical personnel that she had fallen in the street, not on the sidewalk.

Whitley testified that was not accurate, and that she had told medical personnel that she was walking her dog in the street, and that she had slipped and fallen on the sidewalk.

Whitley was taken by ambulance to an emergency room, where she was diagnosed with an intra-articular fracture of the right (dominant) distal radius, at the wrist. She was discharged, and on Dec. 13, she had an open reduction and internal fixation surgery to her right wrist. She was further diagnosed with a soft-tissue injury to her right shoulder.

Eventually, Whitley underwent a course of physical therapy, including exercise, and consulted with her surgeon. In August 2014, she had the surgical hardware removed in her wrist. She treated with additional physical therapy.

Whitley’s expert in orthopedic surgery causally related her injuries and treatment to the accident.

Whitley testified that she continues to have wrist pain and discomfort. She experiences it most prominently while working. She sought damages for past and future pain and suffering.

Baileys’ expert in orthopedic surgery, who examined Whitley, determined that she had made a full recovery from her injuries.

The jury found that the Baileys were not liable.

This report is based on information that was provided by plaintiffs counsel. Defense counsel did not respond to the reporter’s phone calls.

—This report first appeared in VerdictSearch, an ALM publication