Woman Settles Compensation Claim for a Trip and Fall at Dunkin Donuts

A woman, who suffered serious burn injuries from hot coffee that spilled on her, has settled her claim for a trip and fall at Dunkin Donuts for $522,000.

Early in the morning of 19th January 2012, Maria Marsala was walking through the parking lot of Dunkin Donuts store in Highland Park, New Jersey, when she tripped and fell over a dislodged curb stop in the restaurant parking lot. As she fell, the cups of hot coffee she was carrying spilled over her – causing substantial scalding to her face and neck.

Maria was treated at the scene of the accident by the Highland Park First Aid Squad for the cuts and bruises she had sustained in her accident, and then taken to the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick for further treatment on her burn injuries. When she was discharged, Maria sought legal advice and made a compensation claim for a trip and fall at Dunkin Donuts.

In her claim against Dunkin Donuts, the franchisee who ran the Highland Park restaurant, and the owner of the mall in which the Dunkin Donuts store was located, Maria claimed that the three defendants had failed in their duty of care to maintain the parking lot in a safe condition. The three defendants denied their liability for Maria´s injuries, and a court date was set for the case to be heard at Middlesex County Superior Court.

However, prior to the hearing, Ed Rebenack – Maria´s attorney – announced that the compensation claim for a trip and fall at Dunkin Donuts had been settled out of court for $522,000. Rebenack said: “Ms. Marsala is hopeful that the settlement will serve to remind business owners that their customer’s safety should always be a priority. Basic property maintenance would have saved Ms. Marsala from years of debilitating injuries.”


Parties agree to Settlement of Restaurant Lighting Accident Injury Claim

A restaurant lighting accident injury claim has been settled for $702,000 after the parties in the case negotiated a settlement during a court hearing.

The restaurant lighting accident injury claim concerned Deidrenne Ashcraft from San Mateo in California who, on 18 June 2011, attended the Roe Restaurant on Howard Street in San Francisco to see a show by rapper Mickey Avalon.

While thirty-seven year old Deidrenne was waiting for the show to begin, a lighting tree on the stage toppled over and hit Deidrenne on her head and right shoulder. Deidrenne was taken to hospital by emergency services, where she was diagnosed with concussion, a head injury and a tear to her right Genoid labrun known as a “SLAP tear”.

Deidrenne had to undergo two years of physical therapy before the injury to her shoulder healed; during which time she developed a vestibular disorder – a condition which affects a sufferer´s balance – which has prevented Deidrenne from returning to her job as a recruiter ever since her accident.

Deidrenne made a restaurant lighting accident injury claim after seeking legal advice against the owners of the Roe Restaurant and the company from whom the lighting equipment had been hired. She alleged in her action that the lighting tree had not been secured and that there had been a failure to provide patrons with a safe environment as a result.

The two defendants denied their responsibility for Deidrenne´s injuries and claimed that they had been caused by her own actions due to being intoxicated. They also alleged that there had been no witnesses to the accident until Deidrenne´s lawyer produced a recording of the 911 emergency call after the accident which proved how Deidrenne´s injuries had been sustained.

Despite liability being established, the parties could not agree on how much compensation for a restaurant lighting accident Deidenne was entitled to. The defendants´ lawyers failed to agree that Deidrenne´s injuries would prevent her from working in the future and claimed that there was no justification for alleged future medical expenses.

The case was scheduled to be heard at the Superior Court of San Francisco County before Judge Cynthia Lee. However, as the hearing began, the two parties announced that a settlement of Deidrenne´s restaurant lighting accident injury claim had been negotiated amounting to $702,000.


Families Awarded Compensation for Restaurant´s Failure to Provide Safe Environment

The families of two teenagers, who died after an attack in a McDonalds parking lot, have been awarded $27 million compensation for a restaurant´s failure to provide a safe environment.    

In February 2012, Denton James Ward (18) of Flower Mound, Texas, and his girlfriend Lauren Bailey Crisp (19) of Dripping Springs in Texas visited the McDonalds restaurant in College Station. As the couple walked through the McDonalds parking lot, Denton was viciously attacked by a group of 15-20 youths who kicked him and stomped on him while he was lying on the ground.

Denton possibly died from his injuries sustained in the parking lot attack, but Lauren tried to save his life by putting him into her vehicle and driving to the nearest hospital. However, while she was on the way to the hospital, Lauren ran a red light and was hit by a pick-up truck – an accident which resulted in her death.

The families of the two teenage victims made a claim against McDonalds for compensation for the restaurant´s failure to provide a safe environment on the grounds that the College Station branch of McDonalds had a history of late-night trouble, but the restaurant had failed to employ security guards or install CCTV to monitor disturbances and identify those responsible.

McDonalds denied their liability for the two deaths – arguing that there was no evidence to prove that either teenager had died on their premises – and the case proceeded to 361st District Court in Bryan, Texas, where before Judge Steve Smith and a jury, the families of the two victims produced evidence that local police had been called to the restaurant on more than twenty occasions during 2012 to break up fights.

Despite the evidence to the contrary – and one of the attackers being identified and sentenced to 90 days for assault – two McDonalds managers who were working on the night in question testified that they had never been aware of any violence at the restaurant. Despite their claims that the restaurant was a safe environment, the jury found in the two families favor, and awarded the family of Lauren Crisp $11 million compensation for the restaurant´s failure to provide a safe environment, and the family of Denton Ward $16 million.

It is anticipated that McDonalds will appeal the verdict of the jury.


Judge Awards $2.8 Million Compensation for Slip in Restaurant Entrance

A judge at the Superior Court of Los Angeles County has awarded a young woman $2.8 million compensation for a slip in a restaurant entrance.

Justine Kirby (30) made a claim for a slip in a restaurant entrance after injuring her back in a fall at the El Indio Restaurant in Pacoima on 6 March 2010. Justine was taken to hospital by ambulance where she was diagnosed with lumbar disc bulges and had to undergo a course of nerve block injections to relieve her pain.

Justine had two back surgeries within six months of the accident and still suffers from back pain and mobility issues which prevent her from working. Justine´s physicians have informed her that she will need a lumbar laminectomy in the future, as well as ongoing treatment to manage the pain.

After seeking legal advice, Justine made an injury compensation claim for a slip in a restaurant entrance against the owner and manager of the restaurant; claiming that both had been negligent in failing to maintain the property to a safe standard. The defendants denied their responsibility for Justine´s injury, and argued that Justine´s accident had not occurred as she alleged and that she was exaggerating her level of injury.

The case went to the Superior Court of Los Angeles County in Van Nuys and was heard by Judge Bert Glennon Jr., who was told that the restaurant had a downward slope from the entrance patio which was open to the elements and paved with indoor floor tiles which had no slip resistance. The judge also heard evidence that the restaurant had previously been cited for health and building safety code violations – including one violation relating to the tiled flooring in the restaurant entrance which was never corrected.

Judge Glennon found in Justine´s favor; ruling that the two defendants could have avoided the accident from occurring by having floor mats at the entrance to the restaurant, overhead protection in the entrance area, and a handrail alongside the sloped entranceway. He awarded Justine $2.8 million in injury compensation for a slip in a restaurant entrance which was made up of $1,500,000 compensation for Justine´s personal injury, $973,000 for her lost earnings and $327,000 for the medical costs she had already incurred and those she was likely to face in the future.


Changes to Personal Injury Claims Procedures will Speed up Compensation

Changes to personal injury claims procedures introduced on 1st August 2013 will speed up compensation settlements in claims with a value of up to £25,000.

The second of two changes to the Civil Procedure Rules took effect on 1st August 2013, and whereas the changes to the personal injury claims procedures in April of this year took away some of the benefits of making “Contingency Fee” compensation claims, the most recent changes should allow claimants to receive their compensation settlements within a shorter time frame.

The new procedures will see the length of time negligent parties and their insurance companies have to acknowledge “Letters of Claim” reduced to one day from twenty-one days, and the number of days available for them to conduct their own investigations into a claim reduced from ninety days to thirty days (forty days in the event of a compensation claim for an accident at work).

The aim of the new procedures is to reduce the costs of pursuing a claim for personal injury compensation when the value of the claim is less than £25,000 and when liability is not disputed. Any negligent party or insurance company who fails to adhere to these guidelines will not be able to take advantage of the Ministry of Justice Claims Portal and will face higher costs in defending the claim.

There are numerous exceptions to the new Civil Procedure Rules and there will be no change to the personal injury claims procedures in the following events:-

  • If an injury has been sustained due to the negligence of a private individual – for example if a homeowner has damaged the pavement outside their house over which you have tripped and fallen
  • If the injury which is being claimed for is an acquired disease either at work (for example COPD due to your working environment) or a place of public access (for example food poisoning in a restaurant)
  • If an injury has been sustained in an accident or scenario involving more than one party – for example a car accident in which more than one person was to blame
  • If an injury was sustained in an accident for which you were partly to blame or if your injury was exacerbated due to your own lack of care (also known as “Contributory Negligence”).
  • If a loss, an injury or the deterioration of an existing condition was due to medical negligence – either at a hospital or in private practice such as at the dentist
  • If you have developed mesothelioma due to exposure to asbestos, or if you are claiming on behalf of an individual who has died due to mesothelioma cancer
  • If you have sustained an injury due to the negligence of a party who is uninsured, insolvent or untraceable – such as if you are injured in a hit and run accident.

The changes apply to injuries which have been sustained or diagnosed in England or Wales from 1st August onwards, and do not affect the length of time you have after an injury has been discovered in which to claim personal injury compensation – currently three years in the UK.

Should you require further information about how the changes to the personal injury claims procedures may affect you in your particular circumstances, you are advised to speak with a personal injury lawyer at the earliest opportunity.


Salmonella in Watermelon Claims Investigated by Food Standards Agency

The Food Standards Agency is investigating salmonella in watermelon claims following the death of one person and thirty other reported cases of food poisoning in the UK relating to pre-packed ready-to-eat watermelon slices.

Cases of similar illness have also been reported in Germany and the Republic of Ireland, and officials at the Health Protection Agency are treating the outbreak of salmonella poisoning with particular caution – issuing advice to wash all fruit and vegetables thoroughly before eating them.

The origin of the salmonella contaminated watermelons is not yet firmly established, but they are believed to come from a food preparation unit in Brazil; where the watermelons may have been washed in unclean water or cut with a contaminated knife.  Of the thirty people known to have developed the “Salmonella Newton” strain of salmonella, fifteen have confirmed that they had eaten watermelon within the preceding week.

The salmonella in watermelon claims victims in similar ways to other strains of food poisoning, with victims suffering from diarrhoea, vomiting, fever and abdominal pains which last from four to seven days. Some people will need a course of antibiotics to prevent complications such as septicaemia and infection, and people recognising the early symptoms of food poisoning are advised to seek medical attention immediately.

Subject to the medical prognosis, it will be possible for salmonella in watermelon claims for compensation to be made against the retail outlets responsible for selling the contaminated watermelons. This is most likely to be snack kiosks or small shops with self-service fridges rather than the larger grocery stores, although some cafes and restaurants may also be liable if they have served the contaminated watermelons on their premises.

In order to assist with determining liability and the preparation of injury compensation claims, those suffering from salmonella in watermelon food poisoning are advised to speak with a lawyer at the earliest possible opportunity.