Adam Mordecai secured a defense verdict in a three-day traumatic brain injury case in the Chittenden County (VT) Superior Court. The plaintiff struck her head on a large, cantilevered umbrella when she stood up after dining on the patio of a boutique hotel in downtown Burlington. The plaintiff claimed to have suffered a severe, permanent, and disabling brain injury from this accident. The court had previously entered partial summary judgment in favor of the plaintiff, leaving only the questions of breach of duty and the scope of the plaintiff’s alleged injuries to be resolved at trial (the court had found that the plaintiff was owed a duty of care, that the plaintiff had struck her head as claimed, and that the plaintiff had suffered a concussion). The defendant hotel had purchased the umbrellas at issue from a reputable vendor, assembled them per the manufacturer’s instructions, and put them to their intended use out on the patio during the spring and summer seasons. There had been no prior complaints of injury involving the umbrellas, but the plaintiff argued that their placement directly over seating areas constituted a breach of the heightened duty of care owned by businessowners in Vermont. In addition to general damages, plaintiff sought award for a claimed loss of earning capacity.

After deliberating for over four hours, the jury found that the defendant was not negligent and returned a verdict in favor of our hotel client.