Personal Injury Experts Caution Casinos Following $3 Million Jack Cincinnati Award to Injured Ohio Gambler
Posted on: July 3, 2019, 02:00h.
Last updated on: July 3, 2019, 08:48h.
Veteran personal injury attorneys say that last week’s jury verdict — which awarded $3 million to a woman after she tripped on a downed “wet floor” sign at Ohio’s Jack Cincinnati Casino — provides a reminder for all gaming venue officials about slip and fall risks.
Lynda Sadowski suffered a broken kneecap in the 2016 incident, the Washington Examiner reported. A metal plate was later inserted in her leg and she may need further surgery.
A video released by the casino showed an employee walked past the sign 11 seconds before the patron fell on it, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported based on statements from the victim’s attorneys. Apparently, the employee did not address the risk immediately.
The verdict was probably appropriate,” Patrick Salvi, an attorney at Illinois-based Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard, and who also teaches at Notre Dame Law School, told Casino.org. He noted the injury has an impact on the plaintiff for the rest of her life.
She may be at risk for arthritis and may need a joint replacement. She also likely suffers from joint pain.
An appeal of the verdict is possible. The grounds may focus on minimizing liability of the gaming venue.
Even if the sign was knocked down and employees walked past it, it was not in a dark alley but in a well-lit casino, says Salvi, who is a former president of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association.
“The expectation … is people should watch where they’re going,” Salvi explained. “It’s an open and obvious condition.”
It may be harder for the casino’s attorneys to challenge the amount of the verdict, he said. “It’s $3 million not $30 million.”
Keith Sullivan, who teaches at Pace Law School and is an attorney at New York City’s Sullivan & Galleshaw law firm, told Casino.org “This high award tells us the plaintiff sustained significant injuries that have and will continue to have a lasting effect.
It’s possible the plaintiff’s lawyer asked for an even higher award,” Sullivan added. “Often a jury will … pick an amount in between what the defense lawyer and plaintiff’s lawyer suggest or ask for.”
During the trial, attorneys for the casino argued the downed warning sign remained visible and Sadowski should have been aware of her surroundings, the Examiner reported. But the plaintiff’s attorney countered the casino was responsible.
“A knocked down ‘wet floor’ sign would be a dangerous condition,” Salvi said. He explained casinos are very busy locations with a lot of people walking around.
“They have to take special care,” Salvi said about casinos. Gaming venues also typically shoot extensive surveillance video of the gaming floor — which further suggests management should have known about the condition since there is constant monitoring.
One key question is: how long was the sign down? If it was a short time, venue employees may not have had “reasonable opportunity” to address the issue, Salvi said.
Lessons Learned for Casinos
All casinos should learn from this experience, the attorneys say.
“You have to be very, very vigilant in terms of monitoring your property — [and ensuring] a reasonably safe condition,” Salvi advised.
To reduce risk of danger, there should be a company-wide policy disseminated to all employees on how to bring possible dangers to someone’s attention, Salvi advised. This could even be for such routine circumstances as a spilled drink or a rug that is out-of-place.
Be vigilant in looking for transient defects, such as water, debris and other tripping hazards — and immediately cure the defect,” Sullivan agreed. “Don’t simply rely on people to bring problems to your attention. Look for them before they become dangerous and costly.
“Warnings must be clear, visible and unobstructed,” Sullivan continued. “If the defendant’s ‘caution wet floor’ sign fell down and was … laying flat, it’s as if it wasn’t there at all.”
Risk for Danger Elsewhere
There are other recent situations where visitors were at risk for danger. In 2017, Texas casino cruise ship Jacks or Better (JOB) struck a jetty marker in the Galveston Bay. The accident didn’t result in injuries but did startle passengers after a loud crashing sound was heard.
In April, a woman fell from the El Loco rollercoaster inside Nevada’s Circus Circus’ Adventuredome theme park. It is operated by MGM Resorts.