On October 3, 2016, Jazmon Morrison was injured while working as a hospice aide at a nursing care facility in Williamsville when she slipped and fell striking her head on the hard floor of her patient’s room.

A Patient Room at Site of Accident

In her ensuing lawsuit against the facility owner and operator, Ms. Morrison was granted summary judgment as to liability because cleaning solution that seeped under the wall from an adjoining room caused the accident. The matter then proceeded to a damages only trial.

The Erie County jury awarded plaintiff damages in the total sum of $3,972,701 as follows:

  • Pain and Suffering – $400,000 ($200,000 past – six years, $200,000 future – 30 years),
  • Loss of Earnings – $1,072,701 ($177,290 past – six years, $895,411 future – 25 years); and,
  • Future Medical Expenses – $2,500,000 (30 years).

Defendants appealed arguing that the damages awards were excessive; however, in Morrison v. South Union RD HC, LLC (4th Dept. 2024), the appellate court rejected the defendants’ arguments.

Plaintiff, 25 years old at the time of the accident, lost consciousness when her head hit the floor. She was rushed to the hospital and admitted for three days where she was assessed with a head injury, blurry vision and decreased ranges of motion and pain in her neck and back. Upon discharge to home, she followed up with with a neurologist who diagnosed her with post-concussive syndrome, cervicalgia, headaches, involuntary jerking, and problems with memory, concentration and vision (and he testified at trial that her brain and spine injuries are permanent).

Plaintiff required a walker to ambulate and for two and a half years. At trial, she required a cane to walk and testified that she still had difficulty caring for herself and her children, her memory continued to be poor, she had not returned to work and her treating physician opined she never would be able to do so.

The defense argued that plaintiff’s injury was minor especially in view of the facts that she sustained no fractures, an MRI revealed no bleeding or bruising of the brain or other abnormalities and their expert neurologist testified that plaintiff’s head injury was minor and her post-concussive syndrome and spinal strains had resolved.

Inside Information:

  • In closing arguments, the defendants’ attorney argued that plaintiff’s injuries all resolved within 10 months and that an award of $100,000 for her pain and suffering would be appropriate. Plaintiff’s attorney asked the jury to award $5,750,000 for her pain and suffering.
  • There were several expensive medications included in plaintiff’s life care plan – the most expensive was Nurtec (for migraine headaches) which it was estimated would cost about $4,500,000 over plaintiff’s expected lifetime. The defense did not submit their own lifecare plan.