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$200,000 Verdict for Senior Who Tripped and Broke Shoulder

the corner of Cottman and Montague
The corner of Cottman and Montague today.

A Philadelphia County jury awarded $200,000 to an elderly woman for an injury resulting from a trip and fall accident, in a premises liability claim against Defendants, Cui Lan Dong, Ben Yi Zhu and the City of Philadelphia .

Abbie Butler was walking her dog on the sidewalk of the property owned by defendants Dong and Zhu, located at 4236 Cottman Ave. near Montague St. in Philadelphia on November 12, 2012, when she tripped on a large crack in the sidewalk and fell. Butler, who was in her sixties at the time, suffered a dislocation and fracture of her right shoulder.

Immediately after the accident she sought medical care for the shoulder injury in the emergency room. Doctors placed her shoulder in a sling and put her on a home exercise program. Butler required assistance in everyday tasks, such as bathing and getting dressed. The fall greatly restricted her daily actions and hindered her ability to enjoy gardening, her favorite activity. She continued a home exercise program up through the trial. She is right hand dominant and as a result, the injury and subsequent mobility restrictions caused significant hardship and suffering.

"We know nothing" defense

The defendants contended that they were never made aware of a defect in the sidewalk by their tenants, nor had the city of Philadelphia recorded any complaints about the maintenance of the sidewalk. They also argued that it was a clear sunny day on the day of the accident, and that there were no obstructions in place to block plaintiff's sight. The defendants also argued that the condition of the sidewalk was open and obvious, so much so, that the plaintiff should have seen the crack as there was grass growing out of it.

The defense asserted that Butler was comparatively negligent for failing to be vigilant and watch where she was walking. They also questioned the severity of her shoulder injury, asserting that the injury healed with minimal medical treatment.

The case went to trial before the Judge Rosalyn Robinson. After a three-day trial, the jury returned an award of $200,000 for Ms. Butler, finding that defendants, Dong and Zhu were 100% liable for Ms. Butler's injury and that she was entitled to compensation for the pain and suffering she endured as a result of the accident. Ms. Butler was not found to be comparatively at fault for the accident.

Plaintiff's attorney Susan B. Ayres expressed her "ongoing desire to fight for the rights of injured Philadelphians." She reminds everyone that "property owners must maintain their properties in order to prevent accidents like this from occurring."

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