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Slip-and-fall verdict awards woman $1.2M

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A Scott County jury awarded a woman who slipped and fell on ice at a Quad-City hotel $1.2 million on Friday.

Brenda Alcala, 54, of Dallas stayed at the Courtyard by Marriott Bettendorf when she fell on an icy private sidewalk Jan. 21, 2010, according to her attorney, Mike Bush.

"I'm pleased with the amount," Bush said. "These are very tough cases to win. You have to prove the business had plenty of opportunities to do the right thing."

Alcala sued Marriott International Inc. and Courtyard Management Corp. for premises liability.

A message left at Marriott International wasn't immediately returned.

The trial in Scott County District Court, Davenport, lasted four days. Bush said he tracked down two other customers in Chicago who had stayed at the hotel at the same time as Alcala and put them on the stand.

"They testified the sidewalk was really slippery," Bush said, adding one of the witnesses said he avoided the sidewalk by walking on the frozen grass.

Paramedics who responded to the scene had to put down their own salt, Bush said.

"When you own property, it's your obligation to maintain a safe walking surface," he said.

The jury began its deliberation late Thursday afternoon and concluded with a verdict at 11 a.m. Friday. Jurors found Alcala 2 percent at fault for her own injuries.

She shattered her right ankle in the incident at the hotel and has had two surgeries. Bush said arthritis has set in her ankle and she walks with a limp.

Alcala was in the Quad-Cities doing consulting work for Genesis Health System. After the injury, she had to change jobs with a pay cut within her Texas firm because chronic pain keeps her from traveling.

"There's a significant future earnings loss," Bush said.

She also may need ankle fusion surgery in the future, Bush said.

Bush is with the Davenport law firm of Bush, Motto, Creen, Koury and Halligan LLC.


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