A Connecticut resident filed suit for negligence after injuring herself while walking to the Danbury Hospital parking lot. She prevailed during a bench trial, and the defendant appealed. The Connecticut Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court’s decision, which may be interesting to Massachusetts slip and fall claimants as well.In June 2010, the victim and her daughter were visiting the victim’s husband, who was being treated at Danbury Hospital. After their visit, they exited the hospital’s main building and walked onto a walkway leading toward the parking lot. They were familiar with this walkway, since they had made this same trip several times in the past.
While they were walking along the pathway, the victim hit something with her foot and fell to the ground. As a result of the fall, she sustained injuries to her right foot and ankle. It later was determined that she had broken her big toe and damaged the fifth metatarsal of her right foot. Within minutes of the fall, she was taken to Danbury’s emergency room, where she was examined and treated for her injuries. As a result of her fall, she experienced chronic lower back pain from a protruded disc that required several epidural steroid injections and, eventually, a surgical decompression procedure. The lower court ruled for the victim following a bench trial.
On appeal, the defendant first claimed that the trial court erroneously found that the defect in the walkway that caused the plaintiff’s injuries was a reasonably foreseeable hazard. The appeals court disagreed, reasoning that the trial court reviewed reports prepared by members of the defendant’s security and medical staff, as well as photographs depicting the alleged defect and the surrounding area, and it heard the testimony of the plaintiff and her daughter describing the fall and the defect. The trial court therefore had before it adequate evidence of a broken slab of pavement that contained a chip in a well-traveled walkway that had existed for a sufficient period of time. Thus, the appeals court concluded that the findings related to this claim were not clearly erroneous, and the conclusions were not unreasonable.