Posted by Gary Burger on May 9, 2017
Burger Secures a $125,000 settlement in Auditorium Fall
Gary is featured this week in the Missouri Lawyers Weekly for a case that he settled for $125,000.In the last two weeks, we secured a great result for our client, Sally Anderson, against Centene Corporation. Sally was leaving a concert at the Centene building in Clayton. She walked to the end of her row of seats and went to step onto the stairs. However, her foot slipped into a gap between the stair and the seat and she fell, badly fracturing her tibia and fibula above the ankle. She was escorted out of the Centene building and got immediate medical care. She had surgery shortly thereafter. Doctors put in plates and screws to repair her bone. Her recovery was long, as with any type of fracture, and she worked hard while completing physical therapy to get better. She is now able to ambulate and get around, but still has some permanent disability to her ankle, which prevents her from walking as long as before.
The Defendants’ view of her case was not good. They believed she did not look where she was going and tripped, causing her ankle to break. This was a zero-offer case where Gary went with the adjuster and viewed the security tape. Even with the video footage, they refused to offer any money to resolve the case. We filed a personal injury lawsuit and aggressively litigated the case, as usual.
Sally did a great job in her deposition explaining exactly what happened. In fact, Sally had been a commercial building manager for thirty plus years and clearly explained that you do not have gaps at the end of rows of seating. We took a corporate designee deposition of Centene Corporation and found out that when this building was designed they had no idea that this gap was going to be there. When installed, the seats did not fit in the rows, and they decided to put the gap at the end of the rows rather than in the middle between seats. As usual, in working these cases over a period of time, we think about them a lot. When Gary looked at other stadiums he went to for sporting events he saw none of that had a gap at the end of their rows between the seats and the stairs. Other facilities found it very easy to see how anyone could get injured in such a way and were built to ensure that people of any age, ability range, and activity level would not be injured in the manner of Ms. Anderson.
We also found that after we filed the personal injury claim, Centene had done the subsequent remedial measure of going in, hiring a carpenter, and filling in all the gaps between the seats and stairs with wood and carpeting. It was the correct, responsible thing to do on their part, and we are glad that this has been remedied. We wish it had not taken a significant injury for Centene Corporation to identify and correct this safety hazard, but the knowledge that no other person will be injured is comforting.
The amount paid to satisfy Sally’s medical bills was approximately $10,000 and we obtained a settlement of $125,000. We were able to take a denial of liability and a request to drop this personal injury case, and turn it into a large recovery, with the total being more than ten times the paid medical. We succeeded because we had a great deposition of our client as well as the person designated by the Defendant to attend to this matter, where he admitted there was a safety risk, and that people would likely trip there. Most important, we are happy that Centene Corporation stood up, took responsibility, and remedied the issue, as many defendants do not.