Atlanta, GA— Jurors Friday cleared an Atlanta-area jazz club of fault for a fall that a patron claimed left her with serious back and hip injuries. Spencer-Smith v. Volunteer Restaurant Associates, et al., 17EV000950.
A Fulton County State Court jury deliberated a little over 2 hours before finding Cafe 290, in Sandy Springs, was not liable for the April 2013 fall that Tina Spencer-Smith contends left her with a labral tear in her hip and damage to a disc in her back.
Spencer-Smith contends she fell when she stumbled against steps as she was about to take her seat in the club.
During Friday’s closings, Spencer-Smith’s attorney, The Millar Law Firm’s Anthony Jones II, requested about $2 million in damages.
The four-day trial turned on what caused the fall. During Friday’s closings, Jones highlighted photographs he said showed that reflective tape marking the stairs was old and ineffective, while objects limited its visibility. Meanwhile, he said, the color of the carpeting enhanced the risk of a fall. “They failed to point out the hazard, even though they knew about it and even though they were trained to do so,” Jones said. “They failed to do some simple things that would keep their customers safe.”
However, the defense argued the nightclub wasn’t negligent and the steps presented an open and obvious risk that Spencer-Smith should have been aware of. During Friday’s closings, Brantley Rowlen, of Lewis Brisbois, highlighted measures the club took that he said went over and above safety requirements, including marking the steps with reflective tape and installing additional lighting.
Rowlen showed photos of what he said Spencer-Smith should have seen as she approached the area. “Nothing obstructed her view when she left that second hostess stand, she turned back to her left, and she started walking down that walkway,” Rowlen said, taking jurors through photos of Spencer-Smith’s path. “She’s walking directly at these stairs.”
This is a breaking story and will be updated as more information becomes available. CVN recorded the trial and will publish video as soon as possible.
Email Arlin Crisco at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Spencer-Smith is represented by The Millar Law Firm’s Anthony Jones II and Bruce Millar.
Volunteer Restaurant Associates, d/b/a Cafe 290, is represented by Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith’s Brantley Rowlen and Kate Cappelmann.