Slip & fall at Von's causes Complex Regional Pain Syndrome
Los Angeles Superior Court

On Nov. 12, 2013, plaintiff Monika Solomon slipped and fell in a Von's market in Culver City, when she stepped into a large puddle of water near a refrigerated cake cooler. The cooler was serviced pursuant to a contract by co-defendant Hussman, Inc. The cooler had been serviced within 24 hours prior to plaintiff's fall.  Plaintiff disputed whether Hussman service technician warned Von's store manager that cooler may continue to leak for some period of time. No warning signs or cones were in place at the time of the fall. 

Defendants claimed that the puddle was too large to have been created by a leak from the cake cooler because any such leak would be limited to a slow drip of condensation, and any resulting puddle would be very small. In addition, Von's claimed no notice of any ongoing leak or puddle, and that a sweep had inspected the subject area of the store shortly before the fall with no puddle found. Von's also claimed that if there was any dangerous condition on its premises that any liability for this condition and the allegedly resulting fall arose from acts or omissions of Hussman as its vendor and that Von's was entitled to defense and indemnity under its contract with Hussman. Von's was an additional insured under Hussman policy for any loss arising from any act of Hussman unless the loss was due to sole negligence of Von's. Tender of defense by Von's to Hussman was rejected by Hussman's liability carrier, Chubb.

Monika Solomon sustained a fractured distal fibula requiring ORIF with subsequent development of CRPS, which she claimed would require implantation of a Spinal Cord Stimulator.  Her total past medical bills were $160,000 (pre-Howell reduction) and she claimed future medical costs of approximately $3.6 million (before being adjusted to PV).  There was no loss of earnings claimed. 

Defendant Hussman initially offered only $20,000 and Von’s offered zero.  Ultimately, Von’s entered into an agreement whereby Von’s would pay plaintiff $200,000 upon completion of settlement, and Von's stipulated to a bifurcated judgment of liability, followed by uncontested prove-up of damages before a retired judge of plaintiff's choosing. In addition, plaintiff was to execute covenant not to execute against Von's on judgment obtained by prove-up beyond indemnity available from liability carrier for Hussman, as to whom Von's claimed entitlement to defense and indemnity as additional insured. The settlement agreement further provided that in the event of settlement by Chubb, Von's would recoup $100,000 from the first $200,000 paid by Chubb, and additional recovery on 50-50 basis with plaintiff up to $100,000 from any recovery between $2 million and $2.2 million.

After good faith finding, plaintiff made a policy limit settlement offer to Chubb for it's limits of $2 million. A counter-proposal was agreed to under which Chubb paid $1.9 million to plaintiff and $100,000 to Von's. No payment was made by Von's under the settlement as it was finalized and paid entirely by Chubb.