Having handled cases where clients have been injured when a chair collapsed or broke out from under them, Reston and Herndon Virginia area product and premises liability lawyer Doug Landau knows how painful (and embarrassing) these incidents can be for the injured victim. In a personal injury case recently brought to Landau’s attention, a Dulles Airport fast food restaurant customer was injured by a broken chair. The plaintiff was inside the Washington-Dulles Airport and sat in a chair at a Burger King prior to the flight she and her mother were supposed to take to the West Coast. The chair fell apart, causing plaintiff to be injured. The plaintiff and her mother looked at the chair and noticed that all of the screws were missing. The defendant Marriott leased the premises to Burger King, which was affiliated with Capitol Concessions. The parties disputed who was responsible for the upkeep of the premises.
Plaintiff’s counsel alleged that the agreement between the defendants indicated who was responsible for upkeep of the premises. Counsel for the injured woman argued that the corporate defendant failed to adequately warn patrons of the dangerous condition of the chair and failed to properly inspect the premises, knowing people would use the dining facility in Dulles International Airport. Plaintiff previously had a spinal fusion and, when she fell, the fusion dislodged and her surgeon had to remove the hardware from her lumbar fusion. Her surgeon testified that the fusion was the source of plaintiff’s pain and complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) occurred as a result of the fall. The injured plaintiff was treated with a pump that provides pain medication on demand, which was considered a permanent solution for her condition. This divorced woman was previously employed, but was unable to work after the incident and was considered totally disabled. According to plaintiff’s counsel, the judge moved the settlement along. The dispute in mediation was about who would pay what percentage of the settlement. Landau points out that this is not uncommon when there is clear liability (fault), but where there are several defendants who may be responsible for the damages incurred by the injured plaintiff. In this case, the passenger injured at Virginia’s Dulles Airport accepted a $1,450,000 settlement.