For Theresa Quintana, it all started with a routine trip to the supermarket – a Miami-area Winn-Dixie store. Quintana didn’t notice the liquid laundry detergent that was spilled on the floor of the grocery store isle. She slipped and fell and wound up in years of litigation.
An ambulance picked up Quintana and rushed her to the hospital as she cried about pain to her left knee. Doctors took x-rays that revealed tears of her medial meniscus and anterior cruciate ligament tear – a condition many professional athletes suffer from and must rehab for for months, if not years. Surgeons performed arthroscopic surgery on Quintana to repair her left knee. This was followed up with instructions to regularly see an orthopedist. But where many people bounce back from similar injuries through a regiment of surgery, rehabilitation, and a moderate amount of recuperative time, Quintana did not. Quintana was 58 years old. Perhaps, her age had to something do with it. Perhaps, it was that her fall had been a particularly bad one.
Eventually, Quintana had to undergo an entire knee replacement. But that didn’t work. Quintana continued to experience knee pain and disfunction. Only a short time after that knee replacement, she fell yet again. This time, her fall caused a paraprosthetic distal femoral fracture. To cut through the medical jargon and understand the severeity of the injury, you have to understand some basic human anatomy: The femur is the upper leg bone and the only bone supporting the thighs. It’s the largest bone in the human body and the bone primarily responsible for human activities such as walking, running, and jumping. Quintana had a full-blown fracture in her femur. This lead to another round of surgery. Even after that surgery, Quintana was still in pain and still unable to do the things she loved, like dancing, boating and fishing.
Lawsuits followed. Quintana brought action against Winn-Dixie and its cleaning contractor, ISS Facility Services, Inc., and its subcontractor, Intercontinental Enterprises, LLC, claiming negligence. She alleged Winn-Dixie and the rest of the defendants failed to maintain the store in a reasonably safe condition that lead to her traumatizing, life-altering ordeal. Among the questions in the case were the following: Who was responsible? Who knew what and when? How responsible were those who were responsible? Her attorney asked the jury to award her $150,000 in past medical costs as well as a total of $6,000,000 for past and future pain and suffering. During the trial, the parties disputed whether her fall at Winn Dixie was what caused her need for a knee replacement. The plaintiff said it was. The defendants said she had a pre-existing knee condition.
Quintana’s orthopedist testified that the knee replacement surgery was necessary because the athroscopic surgery for the fall didn’t work. Another of Quintana’s doctors testified that the femur fracture was the direct result of having had the earlier knee surgery which, in turn, was the result of her fall at Winn-Dixie. The parties also disputed whether and how much prior notice any of the defendants had of the mess and whether any of them failed to clean it up in a timely and reasonable manner. Quintana’s attorney offered evidence that the defendants knew about the detergent 8 to 10 minutes prior to her fall and left the spill unattended. The defendants claimed there was not enough evidence to show they were negligent in not cleaning up the mess.
In the end, Theresa Quintana dropped her claims against the contractor and the court subsequently entered a directed verdict dismissing her claim against the subcontractor. But the jury found for Quintana on her claims against Winn-Dixie and awarded her $2.4 million dollars.
Pollard PLLC is a litigation boutique based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Jonathan Pollard earned his B.A. from Cornell University and J.D. from Georgetown Law where he was an editor of the law review. He began his career at the prominent litigation firm Boies, Schiller & Flexner. For more information, contact the firm at 954-332-2380.