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PREMISES LIABILITY: Superior Court holds City liable to plaintiff who suffered knee injury after fall on sidewalk

The plaintiff brought suit against the Hartford Commissioner of Transportation after she tripped and fell on a city sidewalk that she claimed was negligently maintained by the city.  A pizza business in Hartford had removed a sign that arose from the sidewalk, but left the base of the sign without any barrier or warning to pedestrians.  The plaintiff tripped over the base when she was picking up a pizza.  She suffered a serious knee injury requiring several surgeries and was left partially disabled.  The plaintiff alleged that the City was responsible for maintaining the sidewalk and its failure to remove the base or warn pedestrians constituted a breach of its duty to keep the sidewalk free from defects.  In a bench trial, the Court held that the sign was difficult to see and had the potential to cause serious injury, rendering the sidewalk defective and that the City should have known about the defect, as the sidewalk was in that conditions for several months.  The Court rejected the defendant’s argument that the plaintiff was negligent by failing to see the obstruction and held that the sign’s base was the sole cause of the plaintiff’s injuries.  It awarded $32,945.84 in economic damages and $125,000.00 in non-economic damages.  Brooks v. Comm’r of Transp. City of Hartford, CV16-6067492; Dec. 13, 2018