Debra Forman, 62, suffered traumatic brain and orthopedic injuries after a fall
March 17, 2023
CRANBURY, NJ (MIDDLESEX)–The Lawrenceville-based law firm of Stark & Stark announced that Shareholder Evan J. Lide has secured a verdict totaling $1.87 million for 62-year-old Debra Forman after she tripped and fell at the historic Cranbury Inn in Cranbury, NJ.
At the date of the incident, Nov. 4, 2017, Ms. Forman was attending a wedding and tripped and fell on a fireplace that had been erected in the newer part of the building. Ms. Forman fell forward, landing on her face, resulting in non-displaced fractures on her nose and a non-displaced right humerus fracture. A few days after being discharged from the hospital, she exhibited post-concussion symptoms and later developed knee pain. It was also later determined that she had suffered a traumatic brain injury from the accident.
The Inn served as its own general contractor on the hearth extension that caused Ms. Forman’s fall, which was raised 1.375 inches. The building’s site inspection by a liability expert after the accident determined the hearth was a tripping hazard and was five times what the ASTM standards, the ADA, and the building code required (.25 inches).
This case was presided by the Honorable Christopher D. Rafano, J.S.C., in New Brunswick, NJ. After two weeks of trial, Debra Forman was awarded $1.35 million for pain and suffering, $402,596 for her loss of earning capacity, and her husband was awarded $120,000 for his loss of consortium.
“I am thankful that the jury saw the truth in this case and that her reputation was vindicated,” stated Mr. Lide. “When Debbie tripped over the raised fireplace hearth extension, she did in fact suffer a traumatic brain injury that has had devastating consequences for her and her family. This verdict means so much to Debbie and her family and I am proud of the work and resources dedicated by our team.”
Some of Ms. Forman’s injuries were not immediately known and many of her symptoms developed over time. Some of her pre-existing conditions (like migraines and a knee injury) returned or were exacerbated by the fall, and other injuries, like one to her bicep tendon that required surgery three years after the incident, were directly related to the injuries suffered immediately following the accident. The Defense argued that Ms. Forman was faking many of her injuries.
Another interesting component of this case was the fact that the ASTM and ADA standards are voluntary, and the Township of Cranbury, where the Inn is located, did not adopt them and they were therefore not legally binding. The plaintiffs, however, were able to argue that the legality of the standards ultimately did not matter because the hearth posed a dangerous condition that lacked any visual cues which would have drawn attention to the potential hazard.
Evan J. Lide is a Shareholder and member of Stark & Stark’s Personal Injury Group. He is also an expert Civil Trial Attorney as certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey. He has dedicated his career to seeking justice on behalf of those who have been wronged. Mr. Lide focuses his practice on representing people who have suffered traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and other catastrophic injuries, including death resulting from automobile crashes, product liability, and premises liability.
About Stark & Stark:
Since 1933, Stark & Stark (www.stark-stark.com) has developed innovative legal solutions to meet our clients’ needs. Boasting one of the oldest law practices in New Jersey, Stark & Stark offers a full range of legal services for businesses and individuals. After 90 years, our attorneys continue to deliver practical, efficient solutions to clients in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, and throughout the United States.
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