Landlord had actual notice of the dangerous condition due to complaints by plaintiff and other tenants, but contended such notice had to be in writing.
- Case Name: Erica Prieto v. Scott David Lucas
- Court and Case Number: Los Angeles Superior Court / BC696597
- Date of Verdict or Judgment: Friday, February 24, 2023
- Date Action was Filed: Wednesday, May 16, 2018
- Type of Case: Premises Liability, Slip and Fall
- Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Lynne Hobbs
Plaintiffs: Erica Prieto, 34, veterinary technician
Defendants: Scott David Lucas
- Type of Result: Jury Verdict
- Gross Verdict or Award: $2,466,734
- Net Verdict or Award: $3,692,803.94 (with recovered costs and interest)
Award as to each Defendant:
Defendant Lucas was held 100 percent responsible pursuant to his non-delegable duty as the landlord.
- Contributory/Comparative Negligence: None.
- Trial or Arbitration Time: 7 days
- Jury Deliberation Time: 5 hours
- Jury Polls: 12-0 on all questions
- Post Trial Motions & Post-Verdict Settlements: Defendant's motion for new trial and motion to tax cost. (Both denied.) Plaintiff's motion for attorney fees.
Attorney for the Plaintiff:
Jason Doucette, Santa Monica.
McLachlan Law, APC by Michael McLachlan, Hermosa Beach.
Attorney for the Defendant:
Law Offices of Garber, AV and Duncan by Victor Campos, Jennifer Ruiz, London, KY.
Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):
Rajan Patel, M.D., orthopedic surgery. (Treating physician.)
Defendant's Medical Expert(s):
Scott Forman, M.D., orthopedic surgery.
Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):
Mark Burns, liability.
Jay Rosenthal, meteorology.
Facts and Background
Facts and Background:
On June 24, 2017, plaintiff was returning from the alley at her rented residence when she slipped and fell on the walkway, injuring her knee.
Defendant Lucas bought the subject triplex in 2013. The subject walkway contained a coating that was slippery when wet. Mr. Lucas never performed an inspection of the property for unsafe conditions or visited the property after he purchased it. He hired a property management company. A tenant testified that she complained repeatedly about the unsafe walkway. Plaintiff also testified that she reported the unsafe condition to the property manager. Plaintiff's husband also testified he reported it once to a second property manager. It was not fixed before the incident.
The unsafe condition was reported 10 times by three different people. It was present for four years. It was nearly as slippery as ice when wet. Plaintiff could not work for approximately six months. She has a very physical job. She still lives with daily, almost constant pain. She will need a partial knee replacement in the future.
That no one ever reported the unsafe condition. Mr. Lucas would not know it was dangerous through inspection because it was only slippery when wet. Additionally, pursuant to the lease, the tenants agreed the property was safe when they moved in, and agreed by signing the lease that any notice had to be in writing. No evidence of written notice was ever presented.
Plaintiff knew it was foggy that morning and therefore knew the walkway was going to be slippery. She did not use due care. Additionally, her injury would have resolved nearly completely six to nine months later. She is exaggerating her level of pain. There were no objective findings whatsoever to support such claims. She had a second fall at work that even her boss admitted caused the need for the second surgery. All her ongoing issues, which are exaggerated, are a result of that work fall. She is well enough to work a physical job and take care of 24 dogs. She does not require any future treatment.
Injuries and Other Damages
Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:
Transverse patella fracture. Plaintiff had hardware surgery and two years later had the hardware removed. She still lives with daily knee pain.
- Special Damages Claimed - Past Medical: $98,234
- Special Damages Claimed - Future Medical: $82,500
- Special Damages Claimed - Past Lost Earnings: Waived
- Special Damages Claimed - Future Lost Earnings: Waived