Woman falls in grocery store; store's security videos are alleged to be altered to hide the fall.
- Case Name: Laura Rojas de Escobedo v. Food 4 Less of California, Inc., et al.
- Court and Case Number: San Diego Superior Court / 37-2015-00000620-CU-PO-NC
- Date of Verdict or Judgment: Thursday, March 03, 2016
- Date of Settlement: Monday, March 21, 2016
- Date Action was Filed: Saturday, January 17, 2015
- Type of Case: Slip and Fall, Spoliation of Evidence
- Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. William S. Dato
Plaintiffs: Laura Rojas de Escobedo, 48, home cleaner
Defendants: Food 4 Less of California, Inc
- Type of Result: Jury Verdict
- Gross Verdict or Award: $116,541.81
- Net Verdict or Award: $116,541.81
- Settlement Amount: $140,000 (Post-judgment settlement)
Award as to each Defendant:
100% on Food 4 Less of California, Inc.
- Contributory/Comparative Negligence: 0% on Plaintiff; 100% on Defendant
Past medical expenses: $66,941.81
Future medical expenses: $3,600
Past non-economic loss: $36,000
Future non-economic loss: $10,000
- Trial or Arbitration Time: 3 days.
- Jury Deliberation Time: 6 hours.
- Jury Polls: 11-1
- Post Trial Motions & Post-Verdict Settlements: Motion for CCP 998 interest and costs.
Attorney for the Plaintiff:
Harris Personal Injury Lawyers by Joshua B. Poulsen, San Diego.
Harris Personal Injury Lawyers by Ryan D. Harris, San Luis Obispo.
Attorney for the Defendant:
Gibbs & Fuerst by Russell Fuerst, Murrieta.
Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):
Harish Holsalkar, M.D., orthopedic surgery, Vista.
Defendant's Medical Expert(s):
David Smith, M.D., orthopedic surgery, San Diego.
Facts and Background
Facts and Background:
Plaintiff went into Food 4 Less in Escondido to buy some detergent. She found her detergent on aisle 13, and as she turned to walk to the cash registers her left foot slipped on a piece of fruit that was on the floor. The slip caused plaintiff to do the splits and fall back on her buttocks, back, and head.
She was evaluated at the scene by paramedics who transported her to the ER for further evaluation. Plaintiff does not speak English, so her ambulance and ER records conflicted due to the language barrier.
Plaintiff sustained neck, back, head, and knee injuries.
Plaintiff contended that defendant was negligent in its sweeping of the aisles. Plaintiff also contended that defendant intentionally destroyed/altered the video surveillance footage which would have shown the slip and fall.
Defendant provided two videos, both of which showed the sweeps. One cut off immediately before the fall, the second cut off 15 minutes before the fall.
Defendant contended that the sweeps were proper and that two sweeps were completed in the one hour prior to the fall. Defendant also contended that the knee injury was unrelated because plaintiff did not begin treatment for the torn meniscus until several weeks after the fall and did not undergo surgery until almost three years after the fall.
Injuries and Other Damages
Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:
Head injury, neck and back sprain/strain, torn left meniscus
- Special Damages Claimed - Past Medical: $69,394.34
- Special Damages Claimed - Future Medical: $30,000
- Special Damages Claimed - Past Lost Earnings: $0
- Special Damages Claimed - Future Lost Earnings: $0
Demands and Offers
- Plaintiff §998 Demand: $65,000 (served prior to knee surgery in October of 2015).
- Defendant §998 Offer: $35,000 (served a few weeks before trial).