I’m not sure of the exact date of the verdict, but I have a report of a $40,000 verdict in a Neshoba County slip-and-fall case in Brantley v. West Quality Food Services, Inc., d/b/a Kentucky Fried Chicken. The verdict was rendered either on June 30 or the 3-day trial started on June 30.
In any event, the plaintiff alleged a permanent lower back injury (SI joint dysfunction with 2% impairment rating) after slipping and falling on a wet floor in the KFC in Philadelphia, MS.
Plaintiff’s medical expenses were $9,000 and there were no lost wages.
Plaintiff alleged that he was in KFC to use the restroom, see a client and buy a Coke. Plaintiff fell before buying the Coke.
KFC argued that Plaintiff was a licensee rather than an invitee because Plaintiff’s real purpose was to pick up an insurance premium check from a KFC employee. KFC also argued that it satisfied its duty by placing a caution cone in a different part of the restaurant before the fall. KFC’s internal policies and procedures required that several caution cones be placed in all areas that were wet.
The jury determined that Plaintiff was an invitee, that KFC failed to keep its premises safe and failed to adequately warn Plaintiff of a hazardous condition. The jury’s verdict of $40,000 matched the Plaintiff’s request in closing argument.
Plaintiff’s counsel were Shanda Yates with Burns and Associates in Jackson and Al Chadick of Kosciusko.
Defense counsel was Mark Biggers with Upshaw Williams in Greenwood.
Judge Marcus Gordon presided in the trial.
I don’t hear about many civil trials in Neshoba County, so this verdict is newsworthy.
The fact that this case was tried says something about how difficult the litigation climate currently is for plaintiffs in personal injury cases.
The violation of its own policies and procedures was a bad fact for KFC. The Plaintiff asking for $40,000 in closing suggests that a settlement for a lower amount was available to KFC. But KFC was confident enough to risk incurring its legal fees and losing the trial.
I’m not criticizing KFC’s decision. In the same circumstances and litigation environment, I might make the same decision. That’s a case the defendant expects to win nowadays.
I’m just pointing out that the fact that a case with these dynamics is tried is bad news for personal injury plaintiffs and people on both sides of the bar who make their living from personal injury litigation in Mississippi.
For people who ask why plaintiff lawyers don’t file more cases, this case is an answer.