Case details

Owner: Guest caused own injuries by throwing tennis ball





Result type

Not present

right arm, right elbow
On Sept. 13, 2014, plaintiff Rie Nakajima, 40, a researcher, was a guest of a member of the Anaheim Hills Racquet Club, owned by Russell Miller. Nakajima was seated on the patio, watching a tennis match, when she attempted to throw a tennis ball that had landed on the patio back to the players. However, as Nakajima went to throw the ball, she tripped, lost her balance, and fell off the ledge of the patio onto the downhill landscaped slope below. She subsequently sustained to her right arm. Nakajima sued the operator of Anaheim Hills Racquet Club, Russell Miller. Nakajima alleged that Miller was failed to maintain a safe condition for his guests and members and that Miller was negligent per se. Plaintiff’s counsel contended that Miller was negligent per se because the patio should have had a slope, as required by the California Building Code. Counsel also contended that there was no guardrail and that all surface areas with a difference in elevation of 30-inches or greater require a guardrail. The plaintiff’s biomechanical engineer took photographs and measurements of the subject location and various nearby locations 11 months after the incident, and found that the subject elevation was more than 30-inches. Thus, the expert opined that a guardrail was required. Defense counsel argued that Miller was not negligent and that even if he was, his negligence was not a substantial factor in causing Nakajima’s . Counsel also argued that Nakajima was contributorily negligent and that Nakajima’s negligence was the sole factor in causing her . Defense counsel further argued that plaintiff’s counsel could not prove what the elevation change was on the date of the incident because his expert did not measure the elevation until almost a year after the incident. Thus, counsel argued that Miller could not be found negligent per se., Nakajima fractured her right, dominant elbow when she landed. She was subsequently taken immediately to a hospital and ultimately underwent surgery on her right elbow. Nakajima claimed she has permanent scarring from the surgery, causing a permanent disability, in that she lost the use of her arm. She alleged that as a result, she can no longer serve when she plays tennis, has difficulty swimming, and has difficulty doing everyday activities. However, she still works, and only missed four weeks or so after her surgery. In addition, Nakajima claimed that she needs additional surgery and treatment to remove the hardware. Thus, plaintiff’s counsel asked the jury to award Nakajima $650,000 in total damages.
Superior Court of Orange County, Orange, CA

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