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California hotel guest wins $38M in slip-and-fall lawsuit

car accident ambulance

A California hotel guest recently won a $38.6M jury verdict against a hotel in a premises liability case. The hotel guest was at a Newport Beach Inn when he fell over a second story walkway railing and onto the parking lot below. The guest suffered catastrophic personal injuries including brain damage.

The evidence, in this case, indicated that the walkway railing was unsafe because it was too short. The railing violated building codes by being under 3 feet tall. Attorneys for the hotel denied any negligence and sought to undermine the guest’s premises liability lawsuit by introducing evidence of the guest’s intoxication. The guest had a .267 blood alcohol level at the time of his fall, which is more than three times the legal limit for driving. The jury found the hotel guest’s intoxication minimal in comparison with the hotel’s negligent railing design. The jury determined that the guest was 15 percent at fault for his injuries and held the hotel 85 percent at fault.

Source: Von Normann vs. Newport Channel Inn, 35 Trials Digest 15th 19, 2012 WL 3745809 (Cal.Super.)