Trip and fall in Westfield Culver City mall. $3.1 million. Los Angeles County.


Elderly woman trips and falls on ramp in shopping mall.

The Case

  • Case Name: Phyllis Barnett v. Westfield Group, and DOES 1 to 100, inclusive
  • Court and Case Number: Los Angeles Superior Court / BC607280
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Friday, January 27, 2017
  • Date Action was Filed: Friday, January 15, 2016
  • Type of Case: Strict Liability, Trip and Fall
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. H. Chester Horn, Jr.
  • Plaintiffs:
    Phyllis Barnett, 85.
  • Defendants:
    Westfield Group
    Culver City Mall, LLC
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $3,100,000
  • Award as to each Defendant:

    $3.1 million for plaintiff against Westfield Group’s subsidiary Culver City Mall LLC.

  • Economic Damages:


  • Non-Economic Damages:

    Past noneconomic loss, including physical pain/mental suffering: $2,000,000

    Future noneconomic loss including physical pain/mental suffering: $400,000

  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 3 weeks.
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 2 days.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Vaziri Law Group by Stefano G. Formica and David C. Shay, Beverly Hills.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Beatty & Myers, LLP by Sean D. Beatty and Aaron G. Capps, Long Beach.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    H. Ronald Fisk, M.D., Ph.D., neurology, Los Angeles.

    Arthur Kreitenberg, M.D., FACS, orthopedic surgery, Los Angeles.

  • Defendant's Medical Expert(s):

    Nathan E. Lavid, M.D., psychiatry, Long Beach.

    Barry Ludwig, M.D. neurology, Los Angeles.

    Richard C. Rosenberg, M.D., orthopedic surgery, Tarzana.

    Stephen L.G. Rothman, M.D., radiology, Los Angeles.

  • Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):

    Mark Burns, accident reconstruction, Marina Del Rey.

    Galvin Huntley-Fenner, Ph.D., human factors, Irvine.

  • Defendant's Technical Expert(s):

    John Brault, M.S., biomechanics, Mission Viejo.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    On September 23, 2014, plaintiff, 85, arrived at Westfield Culver City to go shopping. Plaintiff was walking and tripped and fell on  a ramp in the mall. 

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    That plaintiff tripped on a bump while on a ramp; that the bump was concealed by a geometric pattern on the carpeting.

    That the subject bump on a ramp was unsafe, violated the applicable building code and caused her to fall.

    That Westfield Culver City shopping center negligently failed to maintain the floors of the shopping center in a reasonably safe condition and breached their duty of care to their customers by keeping a concealed bump on the floors where customers walk.

    That defendants failed to inspect the ramp where the bump is concealed on the floor of the shopping center when they knew, or in the exercise of reasonable care should have known, that concealed bumps on the floor created an unreasonable risk of harm to its customers in the areas that customers walk through.

    That defendants failed to warn plaintiff and the patrons at the Westfield Culver City shopping center of the danger presented by the presence of the bump on the floor.

    That defendants failed to install and/or block off the area where the bump was on the floor of the Westfield Culver City shopping center and failed to include a handrail for patrons walking up the ramp from the parking area, as opposed to only having a rail on the downward direction of the ramp; and failed to otherwise exercise due care with respect to matters alleged in this complaint.

    That the acts and omissions of the defendants caused plaintiff to receive severe injuries to her body and shock and injuries to her nervous system, all of which caused and continues to cause her severe pain and discomfort; and plaintiff is informed and believes and based upon such information and belief, alleges that she will in the future suffer severe mental, physical and nervous pain and suffering, all to her general damages in a sum according to proof at the time of trial.

    That as a result of the acts and omissions of the defendants, and each of them, and the injuries resulting from there, plaintiff necessarily employed physicians and surgeons for medical expenses. Plaintiff will also have to incur additional like expenses in the future.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    That the subject ramp was safe, it was an open and obvious condition and did not violate the building code..

    That plaintiff did not fracture her hip, but rather sustained a spontaneous fracture as she encountered the ramp. Further, that the subject incident did not cause or accelerate plaintiff’s dementia.


Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Plaintiff suffered a fractured hip and acceleration/initiation of dementia following surgery and opioid medication.

Special Damages

  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Medical: Waived.

Demands and Offers

  • Plaintiff §998 Demand: $950,000
  • Defendant §998 Offer: $225,000