Woman Wins $725,000 for Slip-and-Fall on Public Sidewalk
A woman who slipped on a sidewalk riddled with pebbles won a $725,000 jury verdict against the owner of the building in front of that section of the sidewalk.
Tammy Schoening, 52, was walking back to work after lunch with friends in downtown Eugene, Ore., when she turned around to respond to one of her friends. At that moment, she stepped on loose gravel and fell with her feet straight up in the air. She broke her wrist in the fall and fractured and herniated disks in her back. She also developed a condition called “traumatic fibromyalgia,” a pain syndrome in muscles and joints that also causes extreme fatigue.
She sued the building owner, David R. Lyons, and the store owner of an antique shop who leased space in the building. The antique store owner was dropped as a defendant before trial so will not be responsible for the verdict.
Schoening’s attorney, Greg Kafoury, argued that even though his client fell on a public sidewalk, the building owner was responsible for not keeping the pavement clean of gravel. The gravel, which had migrated from a nearby unpaved section, created a dangerous condition, Kafoury argued.
The jury agreed, faulting the building owners and awarding Schoening $550,000 for economic damages and $175,000 for pain and suffering.
Schoening used to a be an active woman who held down two jobs to support her family but is now unable to work or take care of herself, and has become depressed and housebound, Kafoury said.
A doctor testified that her injuries were the same as if she had fallen out of a second-story window.
“She has days when she doesn’t get out of bed because of the pain,” he said, adding that the verdict is her only hope to get better.
“It makes all the difference for her, for her chance to have a decent life,” Kafoury said.