VERDICT IN UNMARKED STAIRWAY FALL CASE
(Pittsburgh, PA) On December 19, 2003, Karen Jenesky, age 47, was in a bank in a local neighborhood in Pittsburgh, when she had to go to the bathroom. The bank would not let her use their restroom but told her she should try next door where there was a chiropractic office. She was not a patient of the chiropractor. Karen opened the door and asked the receptionist if she could use the restroom. The receptionist said yes and told her it was down the hall through the door to the right. As she proceeded down the hall, there was an office straight ahead of her at the end of the hall which did not appear to be a bathroom. There was a door to the right immediately before the office, and Karen opened the door and immediately fell down cellar steps. There was no signage on the door whatsoever.
The problem with the door was that it opened over a steep set of stairs without any type of landing. The light was off, and there was no handrail to catch herself. Karen fractured her neck and shattered her right elbow. She underwent several surgeries and has made a reasonable recovery except for the fact that her condition remains painful, and she has limited use of her elbow and cannot turn her neck completely.
This case was tried with a verdict on January 27, 2006. The case was tried in Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, in front of newly installed Judge Beth Lazzara.
Alan Perer presented the testimony of Joseph Indovina, an architect, indicating that this was a dangerous condition and was contrary to any recognized design and construction standards. Alan Perer also provided alternatives, including a lock on the door, signage, etcetera, that would have eliminated this problem.
The jury awarded $500,000 that was molded to $325,000 to reflect 30 percent responsibility on Karen Jenesky. The case was paid.
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