The plaintiff and her husband were guests of the defendant’s newly opened hotel. After checking into their room, the plaintiff and her husband prepared for their 6:00 p.m. dinner reservation at the hotel’s main floor restaurant. Following dinner, the plaintiff excused herself and proceeded to the ladies’ room located on the lower level of the restaurant. After exiting the ladies’ room, the plaintiff proceeded to the stairway leading back to the main floor of the restaurant intending to return to her table. As she began to ascend the stairway, the plaintiff’s foot slipped on the polished stone stairway, causing her to lose her balance. As the plaintiff began to fall, she attempted to reach out for a handrail to arrest her fall, but she was unable to grasp on to the large ornamental handrail due to the excessive diameter of the ornamental hand railing.
After coming to rest at the base of the staircase, the plaintiff immediately experienced severe pain in her head, face, and left arm.
Evaluation by Brigham and Women’s emergency room physicians revealed a displaced intra-articular fracture of the plaintiff’s left distal radius; a fracture of the plaintiff’s nasal bone left sinus and a fracture of her left orbital socket. The plaintiff underwent open reduction with internal and external fixation and incurred medical bills totaling $6,234.
Plaintiff’s liability case was predicated on deficiencies in the ornamental hand railing as designed, specified, and installed adjacent to the stairway upon which the plaintiff was injured.
According to the applicable provisions of the Massachusetts State Building Code, 780 CMR 1022.2.5, all stairway handrails shall have a circular cross-section with an outside diameter of at least 1 inch (32 mm) and not greater than two inches (51 mm). Measurements taken of the subject ornamental railway revealed an outside diameter a few times greater than the maximum permitted outside diameter. The plaintiff was prepared to offer evidence at trial that the hotel’s owner, architect, and builder, violated the applicable provisions of the Massachusetts State Building Code, which rendered the subject ornamental hand railing useless when relied upon by the plaintiff to prevent her fall.
The plaintiff reached a settlement with the hotel’s owner and general contractor following one day of mediation. Claims against the hotel’s architect are the subject of continuing litigation.
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