Patron of gas station claims dangerous condition of property after tripping, breaking tibia. $1.2M. Riverside County.


Young mother carrying infant trips and falls over a parking stop at Circle K store.

The Case

  • Case Name: Maeve Kelly v. Lake Front Elsinore Plaza, LLC, et al.
  • Court and Case Number: Riverside County Superior Court / CVR12101199
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Thursday, May 18, 2023
  • Date Action was Filed: Monday, March 01, 2021
  • Type of Case: Trip and Fall
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Chad Firetag
  • Plaintiffs:
    Maeve Kelly
  • Defendants:
    Lake Front Elsinore Plaza, LLC
    Circle K Stores, Inc.
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $1,238,500
  • Contributory/Comparative Negligence: 20% to plaintiff
  • Economic Damages:

    Past medical: $0

    Future medical: $98,500

  • Non-Economic Damages:

    Past: $300,00

    Future: $840,000

  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 6 days
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 4 1/2 hours

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Brock & Gonzales, LLP by D. Aaron Brock, Lee Cirsch, Zachary Price and Lindsay Bowden, Los Angeles.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Klinedinst, PC. by Kevin Gramling and Emily Burdine, Irvine.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    Stuart M. Gold, M.D., orthopedic surgery.

  • Defendant's Medical Expert(s):

    Clive M. Segil, M.D., orthopedic surgery.

  • Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):

    Lonnie Haughton, construction and building code standards.

  • Defendant's Technical Expert(s):

    John Brault, MS, human factors.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    On January 11, 2021, the 22-year-old plaintiff attempted to get gas at a Circle K gas station in Lake Elsinore. After being unable to use her credit card at the pump, she put her 5-month-old daughter in a carrier and attempted to walk into the store. As she approached the store's entrance, plaintiff tripped over a wheel stop and fell in the parking lot toward the front of the store. 

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    That defendants negligently maintained a dangerous condition on their property, as the wheel stop that plaintiff tripped over was unnecessary because of the existence of the red parking bollards behind the wheel stop that served to prevent vehicle intrusion into the store.

    Moreover, defendants knew or should have known (constructive notice) of the hazard, as between September 2020 and April 2021 five people tripped over the wheel stop, prompting defendants to admit in writing that the wheel stops were a "trip hazard" and "don't make sense how they are positioned."

    That plaintiff's injuries are permanent and the result of defendants' negligence.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    That the wheel stop that plaintiff tripped over was an open and obvious condition. Video surveillance that captured the incident showed that plaintiff was not looking to see where she was walking to observe any obvious conditions around her that could pose a potential hazard. Plaintiff testified that, had she been looking where she was going, she would have seen the wheel stop and avoided it. The evidence, including plaintiff’s own deposition testimony, established that nothing outside of the (baby carrier) plaintiff was carrying would have blocked her view of the wheel stop and that the wheel stop was not otherwise obscured from her visibility or covered. 

    The wheel stop was appropriately placed for safety and did not violate any building codes or local city codes. 


Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Plaintiff broke her right tibial plateau, needing an open reduction and internal fixation surgery that left a plate and screws in her right knee.

    Plaintiff needed a future knee replacement.  

Demands and Offers

  • Plaintiff §998 Demand: $500,000
  • Defendant §998 Offer: $100,001