If a patron at a Las Vegas restaurant slips and falls, and suffers injuries as a result, then that individual can sue the establishment for damages under a personal injury lawsuit. If no acceptable settlement is reached, the plaintiff can still get money through a jury award. Unfortunately, such a verdict can still be overturned on appeal – and that’s what happened last week.
On Thursday, the Nevada Supreme Court reversed a lower court decision which had awarded more than $3.5 million to a woman who had slipped and injured herself at a Las Vegas restaurant. Debbie Giglio filed suit after she slipped on the way to the restroom at Carmine’s Little Italy restaurant. She claimed that her fall was caused by an "oily substance" on the floor, but the defendants claimed that the floor was clean and no such substance existed.
The high court’s reversal was based on a jury instruction delivered by Judge Timothy Williams, who heard the case in district court. Just before jurors began to deliberate, Williams said that the "mode of operation" approach to premises liability should be considered. That approach dictates that if there was a "reasonably foreseeable dangerous condition" that a property owner failed to rectify, then that indicates negligence on the part of the proprietor.
However, the state supreme court ruled that the "mode of operation" instruction only applies to self-service restaurants (where patrons are likely to spill substances onto the floor), not sit-down establishments like Carmine’s Little Italy. Since the jury was inappropriately instructed, the high court vacated the judgment and sent the case back to the district court for further proceedings. This means that Giglio may have to try her case all over again in order to receive compensation for her slip and fall accident.