On August 31, 2023, Elise Sanguinetti and I concluded a 2.5-week jury trial in San Francisco that resulted in a verdict of $7,403,962.17. The experience was eye-opening, exhilarating, and a true testament to how much we, as trial lawyers, can make a difference in our clients’ lives. When we combine our litigation skills with our passion for standing up to negligent defendants on behalf of the injured, we also create waves of positive change in our community. Jury trials are a safeguard to our rights. We want to thank our client for trusting us with his case and helping us bring him justice.
Facts of The Case
On the evening of October 2, 2020, Plaintiff was closing the blinds that covered the sliding glass door in his San Francisco apartment unit when he tripped and fell through the glass door, which opened to a shared patio. The 40 unit apartment building, named Franciscana Apartments, was owned and managed by the Defendant. The sliding glass was made of non-tempered plate glass. Plaintiff was not sure what he tripped over, possibly hand weights that were on the ground by the door. Regardless, the issue in this case was not that Defendant did anything to cause Plaintiff to fall – there was no allegation of that. Rather, the issue was that Defendant knew or should have known of the dangerous condition of the outdated glass in the door and continued to maintain it.
As a result of falling through the plate glass, which had shattered into large, sharp, jagged pieces, Plaintiff sustained a permanent and serious ulnar nerve injury to his right hand and forearm. He is right-hand dominant and essentially has permanently lost all feeling in his pinky and ring finger of that hand. Weeks later, he was diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) by his treating pain management doctor. He underwent extensive treatment, including 3 surgical procedures, injections, occupational hand therapy, acupuncture, and countless evaluations by orthopedics, neurosurgeons, and pain management specialists.
Defendant denied liability, placed all liability on Plaintiff for causing his own fall, and denied the extent of Plaintiff’s injuries. The main issue was that when the apartment building was constructed in 1961, there was no safety glass requirement. The building code changed around 1964 to require safety glass in all new construction or replacement of sliding glass doors. So when Defendant bought the building in the 1980s, the building code did not require Defendant to update the six sliding glass doors in the building from non-tempered plate glass to safety glass. However, Defendant did proceed to replace glass doors on the western side of the building to safety glass around 2010 due to wind damage. Defendant also updated the glass pool enclosure to safety glass around 2016. We argued that all these updates gave Defendant actual and/or constructive knowledge that the glass door on the eastern side of the building by which Plaintiff was injured was made of non-tempered plate glass, that the glass was dangerous, and that tempered safety glass was the industry standard for sliding glass doors. We also argued that building code compliance was the bare minimum standard, and that although Defendant was technically in compliance with the code, Defendant’s maintenance of its property fell below the standard of care.
Defendant hired three separate liability experts to help bolster Defendant’s complete denial of fault. At the end of the day, however, the jury saw through Defendant’s evasive tactics and rightfully decided to compensate Plaintiff for his injuries, lost income, and pain and suffering. Thanks to the jury, Plaintiff will be able to comfortably plan for his future.
If you have suffered injuries as a result of a slip and fall or a trip and fall, please contact our experienced attorneys at Arias Sanguinetti | Trial Lawyers. We will help you get the justice you deserve.