LITIGATING AGAINST THE FAST FOOD GIANT (Do you want to be Represented by the Lawyers that got it wrong or the Lawyers that always get it right?)
This is an interesting slip and fall case that we took on 2 years ago. It was set for Trial with a Lawsuit filed and served and Depositions taken. Last week it Settled at a Pre-Trial Mediation. Every Plaintiff Attorney knows that Litigating against the fast food giants is tough. Whether they be: In-n-Out Burger, Wendy’s, KFC, El Pollo Loco, Jack in the Box, Carl’s Jr., Taco Bell, Burger King, Del Taco, Subway, etc., they do not pay Claims. Their exposure to accidents is tremendous and they choose to make it known to every Plaintiff Attorney that they will never pay on an Injury Claim. Subsequently they paid, as a matter of fact six figures, but sorry this was a Confidential Settlement.
Our client, 35 year old male, slipped and fell on water in a bathroom at a popular fast food restaurant. When he fell he tried to grab on to the faucet of the sink in the bathroom in an effort to catch his fall, it cracked off. In doing so at the time he felt some pain in his right palm of or right bottom of his hand. The restaurant wrote up a report basically claiming that their maintenance employee had just finished mopping the floor four minutes earlier. That they had a cone in the bathroom indicating the floor was wet. That the faucet was broke and that there was no indication of injury or that our client had slipped, and that he apologized for breaking their faucet. Tough case, but I liked it because we did have an injury.
Our initial strategy was that there was lack of warning. Our client denied any notice of a danger or wet signs inside the bathroom or when he walked in. In the Depositions of the maintenance employee he drew a circle under the sink showing that water had accumulated after he was informed that our client had fallen. After cleaning the Men’s bathroom he cleaned the Women’s bathroom which also took him five minutes. They had claimed that no one else had used the bathroom since he had just finished cleaning it but that statement was inaccurate because the employee had then gone on to clean the Women’s restroom which took him at least five minutes and was in the process of putting his supplies away when our client walked into the bathroom. We developed the theory that the water accumulates in front of the sink because the air hand dryer is on the wall six feet across from the sink. There are no paper towels or mats on the floor. Every time someone washes their hands they must take their wet hands and walk six feet across the bathroom to use the hand air dryer. That causes water to accumulate at the sink. All it takes is one person so even though five minutes had elapsed, the testimony was four to eight minutes, so obviously someone had used the bathroom before because they admitted that there was water accumulated in front of the sink. A rather large area of water. They couldn’t explain why knowing this for years they didn’t reposition the paper towels, move their dryer or put mats on the floor or tell their Supervisor about it. That is what established the actual notice of a “dangerous condition” and the case Settled for quite substantial sum and we had a good recovery for the client. This all occurred in Depositions.
At the start of our Depositions our initial strategy was “standard fare”. We thought we could prove that the floor was still wet from the mopping and there was lack of signage. When that didn’t pan out we didn’t think we had much of a case until I was able to explore it further and find out that they had known about this problem of the water being dripped across the floor when people washed their hands and walked over to the air dryer. This went on for years prior to this accident never taking any safety measures. Because of our case they added a big sign next to the sink to indicate that the floor may be wet.
Our job is always to improve dangerous conditions that exist in public areas. We did it in this case as well before ever even Settling for a substantial sum. Over the years we have remedied many a dangerous condition whether we win the case or lose it…“YOU CAN ONLY BE A WINNER BY CHOOSING A WINNER.” —– Silvio Natale