Premises Liability - Restaurant; Failure to Warn
Dangerous Condition; Negligent Repair and/or Maintenance
Customer tore quadriceps in fall after drinking at bar
Kyle Huse v. Center Court Pizza & Brew Pearland, No. 80433-CV
Brazoria County District Court, 23rd, TX
Carolyn Marks Johnson
June 21, 2018
& Brew Pearland
On April 17, 2014, plaintiff Kyle Huse, 49, a real estate salesman, was a customer of Center Court Pizza & Brew Pearland, a bar and restaurant in Pearland. It was past the 11 p.m. closing time, but the restaurant was allowing Huse and others to finish their drinks at the bar. The general manager directed the closing server to start mopping up, which was part of the nightly close-out procedure. The closing server was mopping when Huse got up and walked toward the exit to leave. He went a few steps and then slipped and fell on the wet floor, sustaining a leg injury.
Huse sued Center Court on negligence theories, including negligent training, negligent supervision and premises liability. The case was tried to the bench.
Plaintiff's counsel argued that the general manager and closing server had actual awareness that it was dangerous and violated company policies and procedures to mop while customers were still on the premises. A regional manager was also present and was aware that the floor was being mopped while customers were still present. Also, there was no written evidence that employees received an employee handbook or were trained on how to close out the premises with invitees still present, plaintiff's counsel argued.
Plaintiff's counsel also noted that the only avenue of egress from the restaurant had been mopped and was wet; that the employees did not dry-mop; and that they did not block customers' access to the wet floor.
Huse testified that the employees did not put out any warning signs before he fell, and he did not know the area had been mopped, because it was to his back as he faced the bar.
The defense contended that Huse was walking over to the closing server, a young woman, to flirt with her and was not watching carefully where he was walking. The regional manager said he obtained witness statements supporting this contention, but plaintiff's counsel argued that the statements were all suspiciously similar and written on a computer.
The closing server testified that she had been bothered by and fearful of Huse, but plaintiff's counsel questioned this assertion, noting that the server had called Huse on the phone.
The regional manager testified that employees received 15 hours of supervised on-the-job training, but plaintiff's counsel argued that there was no written evidence to support this assertion.
Various employees said that they put out warning signs that night, but they did not specify whether it was before or after Huse fell.
All employees present that night testified that they were familiar with the employee handbook, but plaintiff's counsel argued that there was no written evidence that they had even received it.
Huse sustained a ruptured left quadriceps muscle. He drove home that night and went to bed. The next day, he went to a doctor.
About two weeks later, he underwent surgical repair of the torn muscle. He then underwent six months of physical therapy and rehabilitation to learn to walk and use his leg again. He took prescription pain medication for severe pain.
He testified that his mobility was reduced and that he was unable to enjoy the active, athletic lifestyle he enjoyed before. He testified to reduced strength and range of motion and disfigurement above, below and vertically across his left knee. He claimed that he would continue to have some physical pain, mental anguish, physical impairment and disfigurement for the rest of his life.
He testified that, before the incident, he was an avid athlete, weight lifter, skier, wakeboarder and surfer, enjoying these activities with his son and friends, but that he can no longer participate in these activities. He said that he lived only for his job and his athletic pursuits.
He missed time from work to attend rehabilitation and treatment, but at the time of trial, he was earning more than before the incident.
He sought $14,759.48 for past medical expenses. He also sought past lost wages, past and future physical pain and suffering, past and future mental anguish, past and future physical impairment and past and future disfigurement. Plaintiff's counsel asked the court to award a total of $1.2 million.
The defense stipulated that the past medical bills were reasonable, necessary and related to the incident, but disputed the lost earnings.
The defense also argued that his only claimed impairment was being unable to participate in extreme sports and that this impairment, if it existed, was age-related.
Defense counsel suggested an award of no more than the medical expenses, if the court found the defendant liable.