Exaggerated Trip-and-Fall Claim Comes Back to Earth, Settles for Fraction of Demand June 1, 2018

A pedestrian allegedly tripped and fell on a defect in a walkway at an apartment complex in Jamaica, New York, sustaining a fractured calcaneus — an injury resulting in deformity and a doctor’s recommendation for triple arthrodesis surgery, which involves fusing three bones in the foot. Representing the property management company and the building owners, Goldberg Segalla special counsel Joshua H. Stern prepared for trial and crafted a defense centering on an argument that the defect in question was trivial, additionally disputing causation based on the mechanism of injury, with a fallback argument for comparative fault. He also contended that the sequela plaintiff attributed to the foot injury was unrelated and exaggerated due to financial motives. 

The plaintiff's demand going into mediation over two months before trial was $900,000. At mediation, the plaintiff's counsel submitted a reduced demand of $600,000, and Josh issued an offer of $30,000. Following jury selection, motion conferences, and a settlement conference before Judge Janice A. Taylor, the plaintiff reduced his demand to $225,000. Against a counteroffer of $50,000, the plaintiff next demanded $175,000. At this point, Josh informed the plaintiff of our last offer: $75,000 or proceed to trial. The next day the plaintiff accepted our offer of $75,000.