By Patricia L. Harman
Venue: Palm Beach County, FL
Plaintiff: Allison Judkins
Defendants: Chipotle Mexican Grill
On June 15, 2012, Allison Judkins, 50, alleged that she fell while ordering a meal at he Chipotle Mexican Grill
in West Palm Beach, Fla. She sued for
negligence, claiming that a roof leak led
to water pooling on the floor near the
Judkins’ attorney alleged that Chipotle
knew about the leak and the resulting water issue in May 2012. The manager had
confirmed that there was water and it was
making the floor slippery. He cleaned up
the water, verified it was dry and then
found water had accumulated in the same
spot again the next day. The manager
contacted Chipotle’s corporate chain of
command to express his concern for the
customers and request a repair as soon as
possible. He placed a yellow caution sign
near the rusted window frame where the
water seemed to be entering to warn customers to be careful in that area.
The day of the accident, Judkins walked
up to the counter to place her order then
moved down the counter to look at the
toppings available. She slipped and fell
backwards, landing on her back and hitting her head on the floor. According to
Judkins’ counsel, the manager said, “I
knew something like this was going to
happen,” after she fell.
She was taken by ambulance to a local
emergency room and it was determined
that she had sustained a concussion and
was suffering from pain to her neck.
Judkins was prescribed pain medication
and instructed to follow up with an
orthopedist, who ultimately diagnosed
three disc herniations. She underwent
a cervical fusion, had screws implanted
and underwent six months of physical
therapy twice a week.
The orthopedic specialist who treated
her said the disc herniations were the
result of the whiplash she suffered when
she fell and struck her head. She claimed
that the pain and other limitations prevented her from enjoying everyday life
and participating in activities like taking
her son to the zoo, Kennedy Space Center and Walt Disney World like she had
before the accident.
Judkins sought to recover damages for
past and future medical costs, past and
future lost earnings, as well as past and
future pain and suffering.
The jury found that Chipotle was 100
percent negligent and liable for the injuries, and awarded Judkins damages
totaling $1,351,362: $244,363 (personal
injury/past medical cost); $430,191
(personal injury/future medical cost);
$11,500 (personal injury/past lost earnings capability); $15,308 (personal injury/future lost earnings capability);
$325,000 (personal injury/past pain and
suffering); and $325,000 (personal injury/future pain and suffering).
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