Greg and Jason Kafoury won a jury verdict of $725,000 for Tammy Schoening, a 52-year-old ophthalmological tech who suffered major injuries when she slipped on a round river rock on a sidewalk in front of store at 1215 Willamette Street in Eugene.
The Lyons Revocable Trust owned the property, and had maintained planters on the sidewalk with exotic plants since the 1960s. In 2008, the trust’s tenant let its neighbor remove dead and dying plants from one of the planters, and replace them with round, smooth river rocks. The planter was about ten feet by 4 feet, and was filled with rocks to the same level as the sidewalk.
There was testimony that the rocks would periodically find their way onto the nearby sidewalk, and by the time Schoening was hurt, the level of rocks had been reduced several inches below the level of the sidewalk. Mr. Lyons testified he was not an absentee owner and that he would go to inspect the property up to three times per week “to look for graffiti.”
Schoening suffered a distal fracture of her left wrist requiring a plate and screws, a spinal fracture and a herniated disk that required surgery. The defense doctor, neurosurgeon Thomas Dietrich, testified that this kind of damage would ordinarily require a fall backwards out of a second-story window. Schoening’s doctors agreed that plaintiff developed traumatic fibromyalgia as a result of the incident and was disabled by it.
The jury awarded Schoening $550,000 in economic damages, some $65,000 of which were for past medical bills, and $175,000 for noneconomic damages.