Olivera v. Southlake Hospital (Orlando, Florida)
Irma Olivera, caretaker, slipped and fell on what she claimed was spilled liquid on the floor of the cafeteria in Southlake Hospital, injuring her left knee. Olivera claimed that Southlake should have cleaned up the spill.
Laurence Trias (Pendas Firm) argued that the hospital should have designated an employee to monitor the cafeteria for spilled food or liquid. "This is a high traffic area," Trias said. "So it's pretty logical that when people walk around wtih food, when people walk around with cups, they may spill. It happens. Mistakes happen."
Defense attorney Vance Dawson (Rissman Barrett) argued that even had there been liquid spilled on the floor -- which he viewed as doubtful, even though Ms. Olivera apparently reported a spill to her medical providers, because Ms. Olivera reported falling forward, not backward -- the hospital was not negligent in failing to clean it up. "If this spill was there so long we should have known about it, why didn't she?" Dawson asked. "We're here to challenge her theory with respect to how we're responsible for something we didn't create that didn't exist and yet she's not." Dawson added that if Olivera tripped over her own feet or tripped because she was wearing flip-flops, then that is obviously nothing negligent that the hospital could have done.
The jury found that the hospital was not negligent.