Man Receives $135,000 Award in Slip-Fall Arbitration
A slip-fall lawyer for a man named Ozcan filed a court complaint. Ozcan claimed that he fell and was injured on a staircase after using a restroom in a mosque. Ozcan alleged that a friend asked him to give her a ride to the mosque. The friend did not state any particular purpose for her visit. According to Ozcan, after he dropped the friend off, his car became blocked in by other vehicles in the mosque’s parking lot. Due to a kidney problem, he entered the mosque solely for the urgent purpose of using the bathroom. The bathroom was downstairs. While climbing back up the stairs to exit the mosque, Ozcan fell. A defective stair railing pulled away from the wall, causing the accident.
Per court procedure, the case was scheduled for a non-binding arbitration The arbitrator issued a $135,000 award in Ozcan’s favor.
The mosque then had 30 days to opt out of the arbitration award. But its lawyer failed to file the proper papers. The mosque’s attorney admitted that the papers were not filed due to her error. The attorney attested that she had recently filed similar papers in another case. She mistakenly thought she had filed one in Ozcan’s case.
The trial judge refused to excuse the mosque for its attorney’s error. The judge confirmed the arbitrator’s slip-fall award.
The mosque’s lawyer filed an appeal. Besides asking the appeals judges to overlook the missed deadline, the lawyer also argued that, since the mosque was a charity, Ozcan should not have been allowed to sue it.
But the appeals court upheld the slip-fall award. An error by an attorney was not enough to reverse the award. The court also noted that a charity was only immune from being sued by beneficiaries of its charitable works. There was insufficient evidence that Ozcan was benefitting from the mosque’s religious works.
This case demonstrates the necessity of hiring an experienced, competent attorney to handle any slip-fall case.