Case details

Raised trench-plate cover caused fall, plaintiff claimed





Result type

Not present

right shoulder
On Aug. 28, 2009, plaintiff Karen Beck, 59, a homemaker, went to a Ralphs grocery store in San Diego to use the bank located in the store, which was undergoing remodeling. As she approached the bank counter, she tripped and fell on a trench-plate cover, her right shoulder. Beck sued Ralphs Grocery Co.; the project’s general contractor, as well as Colorado West Construction Inc.; and the project’s plumbing subcontractor, Gardner Pipe & Mechanical Inc. She alleged the defendants were negligent in properly maintaining the property. As a result of various indemnity agreements, Axis Insurance Co., the insurer for Garden Pipe & Mechanical, defended all three defendants. Shortly before trial, Garden Pipe & Mechanical’s corporate status was suspended and Axis Insurance Co. was forced to intervene on its behalf as a named, direct defendant at trial. Beck claimed that the edge of the trench-plate cover was raised one half-inch off of the floor and that such a change in elevation was dangerous and/or in violation of the California Building Code. Thus, plaintiffs’ counsel argued that the defendants’ failure to properly repair and/or maintain the area constituted negligence per se. Defense counsel contended that the trench-plate cover was only raised one-fourth of an inch and that, in the alternative, a half-inch change in elevation was not dangerous. With respect to the Building Code, counsel argued that it was inapplicable because Beck was not a member of the class of persons the provisions, which she claimed the defendants violated, were designed to protect. The court ultimately held that Beck was not entitled to a jury instruction on negligence per se., Beck was taken from the scene of the accident by ambulance and brought to an emergency room. She sustained a fracture to the humeral head of her right, dominant shoulder. She claimed that when the injury didn’t heal, she underwent a surgical release of the joint space to treat her shoulder impingement. Beck claimed she still experiences ongoing pain and crepitus in her right shoulder as a result of scar tissue that built up at the surgical site. Thus, she sought recovery of $200,000 in total damages, which includes of $28,000 in past medical costs and $25,000 in future medical costs for physical therapy, acupuncture, pain medication and orthopedic treatment. Her husband, Paul Beck, brought a derivative claim for loss of consortium.
Superior Court of San Diego County, San Diego, CA

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