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According to published reports, over one million people suffer a slip, trip or fall-related injury each year, and over 17,000 Americans die as a direct result. Of the estimated 3.8 million workplace-related injuries, 15 percent are due to slips, trips, or falls, which account for approximately 15 percent of all Workers' Compensation costs. And, over 5,000 workers die from these mishaps each and every year.
Despite these devastating statistics, (and notwithstanding popular belief to the contrary), "slip and fall" cases are not the easiest type of disputes to win and do not always result in monetary recoveries. Two recent appellate decisions reinforce that conclusion.
In Ramos v. Castega-20 Vesey St., LLC, a visitor to a local deli left the establishment with more than a corned-beef on rye. On December 27, 1999, while delivering cases of soda to the Stage Door Deli, Charles R. Ramos slipped on a liquid residue (consisting of oil and water) and seriously injured himself. Yet, after trial, Mr. Ramos's case was dismissed for "insufficient evidence," and, the Appellate Division, Second Department, affirmed that dismissal on appeal.
An injured party must plead and prove that the defendant "either created or had had actual or constructive notice of the dangerous condition." A burden which Mr. Ramos could not meet in this particular instance. As the Appellate Division noted in its decision:

The only evidence heard by the jury was that the plaintiff safely traversed the staircase three times and that he saw a person carry a box leaking water up the staircase, but nonetheless proceeded down the stairs a fourth time when he slipped on the substance he knew to be on the stairs. He gave no notice to anyone to correct the condition of which he alone was aware.
A similar outcome was reached in Lipsky v. Firebaugh Realty Corp., where a customer, Ms. Eva Lipsky, left her local Marshalls Department Store with more than she bargained for -- and, no, it wasn't a nice "schmata." Ms. Lipsky slipped on a clothes hanger, which rested comfortably on the ladies' department floor, and incurred injuries as a result.
Marshalls moved to dismiss Ms. Lipsky's personal-injury case, and succeeded. On appeal the dismissal was again affirmed by the Appellate Division, Second Department. As the appellate court observed:
Marshalls ... submitted evidence establishing that the store floor was constantly policed for debris, including clothes hangers. Additionally, both plaintiffs testified that they did not see the clothes hanger before the plaintiff allegedly slipped on it and fell. Finally, there was no proof establishing in any way how long the clothes hanger was on the floor before the plaintiff slipped on it.
Was that a "thump" I just heard ... or was it more like the sound of silence?
For a copy of the Appellate Division's decision in the Ramos case, please click on the following link:
For a copy of the Appellate Division's decision in the Lipsky case, please click on the following link: