PREMISES LIABILITY

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PREMISES LIABILITY

In the spring of 2014, Debbie was visiting the LeMay-America Car Museum in Tacoma. She fell on the front steps, suffering traumatic brain injury and breaking her elbow and nose. When the paramedics arrived, they mentioned to her that they had responded several times to the LeMay to aid people who had fallen on the steps.

Fortunately, Debbie chose Maxwell Graham to represent her within a few weeks of her injuries. Maxwell Graham sent the LeMay Museum a preservation letter requesting to preserve videos, photos, and witness statements as evidence of this fall and any other falls on the steps. The museum, which had 92 security cameras, eventually turned over damaging video that showed Debbie missing the top step and tumbling down three steps onto a concrete landing.

During the course of the litigation, Rebeccah Graham learned that six other people had also fallen down the stairs in the same or similar location. She tracked down several of these injured parties, taking statements showing they had fallen in a similar manner as Debbie. Maxwell Graham requested — but never received — video of these falls, despite claims by museum personnel that they retained video whenever anyone was injured on the premises.

Rebeccah went to court multiple times to ask the judge to order LeMay to produce the video of all of the prior falls. In its defense, the museum claimed the video never existed or was never preserved. Through her hard work and perseverance, and after combing through thousands of pages of documents and filing multiple motions with the Court, Rebeccah was able to show that the LeMay was not being truthful in this regard. The judge agreed that the LeMay willfully and intentionally failed to turn over the video, and that the museum knew how important this video evidence would be at trial. The Court ruled that the museum could not argue that our client was in any way at fault nor could it argue that there was nothing wrong with the stairs.

Ultimately, the judge fined the museum $68,000 as a sanction for their misconduct. The judge also struck all of the defenses as a sanction. The museum was unhappy with this ruling and filed an appeal, which they lost. Finally, the museum gave up. It paid all fines and settled Debbie’s case.

As a result of this work, Maxwell Graham was in a great position to resolve the case, since it now pertained only to Debbie’s damages and to not the liability of the museum. The museum settled for a very satisfactory amount.

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