Franke, Schultz & Mullen, PC | <p >Ellis County, KS Jury Returns Verdict Favorable to FSM Client in Premises Liability Action</p >
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Ellis County, KS Jury Returns Verdict Favorable to FSM Client in Premises Liability Action

Plaintiff Kay Kisner and her daughter were guests at a new Holiday Inn Express in Hays, Kansas, owned by defendant Hays Hotel Partners II, LP, and operated by defendant True North Hotel Group, Inc.  After exiting her daughter’s vehicle in the hotel parking lot into a landscaping island on February 25, 2012, plaintiff believes she tripped on a guy-wire supporting a sapling tree, fell and fractured her knee cap.  Plaintiff’s injury resulted in two knee surgeries and medical bills totaling $64,252.58.  She also claimed $3,800 in lost wages and $100,000 in non-economic damages including damages for past and future pain and suffering.  Plaintiff demanded $80,000 to settle her claim against defendants.    

Defendants did not give in to plaintiff’s demand and proceeded to trial where they presented evidence that plaintiff’s hands were full with her purse, a beverage and a shopping bag and she was not watching where she was walking when she tripped and fell.  Further, those actions were taken by plaintiff at a time when she was dealing with an injured foot on which she had just had surgery two months prior and was still causing her problems. 

Plaintiff’s daughter testified that she told a representative of the hotel about her mother’s fall and advised her to mark the guy-wires.  However, defendants showed that this contact was over a matter of seconds, in the entryway to the hotel rather than the lobby, to someone wearing a polo shirt rather than a uniform, which any hotel employee would have been wearing.  Consequently, defendants had no notice of this accident until much after it occurred when a letter was received from plaintiff’s attorney.

While plaintiff presented evidence that the guy-wires supporting the tree were not marked in any way at the time of her accident, defendants established that they were marked with red ribbon based on photographs taken just a few hours after plaintiff’s accident, a paramedic’s testimony that the ribbons were present when the first responders arrived and there was no discussion of missing markers on the guy wires (as plaintiff and her daughter testified) and a landscaper’s testimony that the red ribbons on the guy-wires in the photographs were his ribbons placed before plaintiff’s accident to which defendants had no access. 

The jury deliberated for less than two hours before attributing plaintiff 49 percent of the fault for her accident.  She was only awarded her incurred medical expenses of $29,320.84, $3,800 in lost wages and nothing for pain and suffering or her other claimed non-economic damages, past or future.  The jury’s verdict resulted in only a $16,891.63 judgment against defendants, which is more than $60,000 less than the amount demanded by plaintiff.  FSM attorney Nick Hillyard represented defendants.