The defense verdict that was recently handed down in the Suffolk County case of Velez v. Hartnett and Kelly Irish Bars Inc. is not terribly surprising - after all, since the plaintiff's own hospital records indicated that she tripped over a bar stool (and not an improperly mopped floor, as claimed by plaintiff). On the other hand, the defense verdict, dismissing the plaintiff's slip and fall claim serves as a powerful reminder to attorneys and claimants about how cases are analyzed by New York juries.

In this case, the jury apparently believed that the plaintiff was intoxicated at the time of her accident, and therefore, the defendant wasn't responsible for her accident. Granted, this accident took place in a bar, and the bar should have to be vigilant in assuring that its premises were safe for people who became inebriated. But as a practical matter, it is hard to imagine a jury will not hold a plaintiff under these circumstances resposible for her own trip and fall, and if not entirely at fault, at least mostly at fault for it.

And that is precisely what happened in this case.
Jonathan Cooper
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Non-Compete, Trade Secret and School Negligence Lawyer
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