Marion County

(4) MARY HELEN TRAXLER vs. JOHNSON'S PAINTING SERVICES, LLC (Circuit Court of Marion County, 5th Judicial Circuit, Florida)

County/Docket #/Judge: Marion / 14-1264-CA-G / Edward L. Scott

Plaintiff(s) Attorney(s): Victor J. Musleh, Jr., and Kelly H. Musleh of Musleh Law Firm, Ocala, FL

Defendant(s) Attorney(s): Gregory D. Jones and Jonathan N. Zaifert of Rywant, Alvarez, et al., Tampa, FL

Age/Sex/Occupation Of Plaintiff: 87 / F / n/a

Cause Of Injury: Negligence/Premises Liability/Creation of Dangerous Condition by Stretching Hose Across Driveway. On May 16, 2012, plaintiff Mary Helen Traxler tripped and fell over a hose that had been placed across her garage entry by defendant Johnson’s Painting Services, LLC. Defendant had been pressure washing a building in the vicinity of plaintiff’s residence, and had allegedly stretched the hose across the entire width of the entrance to plaintiff’s garage. Further, the hose had allegedly been attached to a faucet and pulled tight, causing it to be slightly elevated from the ground. Plaintiff sustained a comminuted fracture of the right femur resulting in three surgeries.

Plaintiff filed a negligence action on May 22, 2014, claiming that defendant was negligent in creating and failing to warn her of the dangerous condition or the fact that they were present and pressure washing around her residence. Defendant denied any liability. Plaintiff’s treating orthopedic surgeon, O.F. Cannon, Jr. M.D., testified as to plaintiff’s injury. Plaintiff’s initial demand was $350,000.

Nature Of Injury: Personal injuries including comminuted subtrochanteric fracture of the right femur resulting in three surgeries; pain and suffering.

Expert Witnesses: n/a

Verdict: $354,358.80 for Plaintiff on July 15, 2015 ($143,358.80 - past medical expenses; $11,000 - future medical expenses; $200,000 - pain and suffering).

Judgment: $345,876.10 for Plaintiff on Sept. 18, 2015 ($336,640.57 – verdict amount reduced for plaintiff’s comparative negligence; $9,235.53 – costs).

Editor's Note: The jury found plaintiff 5% comparatively negligent. The court denied defendant’s motion for a new trial on Sept. 17, 2015. Defendant claimed prejudice based on the court’s failure to strike a juror, causing defendant to use a preemptive challenge, based on that juror’s expression of particular sympathy for “children and little old ladies.” The juror had also expressed his belief that insurance companies should pay for medical bills in the event of an injury regardless of fault.