Ventresco v. The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, 113018 OHCOC, 2017-00466JD

Docket Nº:2017-00466JD
Opinion Judge:ANDERSON RENICK Magistrate Judge.
Party Name:ARIEL VENTRESCO, etc. Plaintiff v. THE OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY WEXNER MEDICAL CENTER Defendant
Case Date:November 30, 2018
Court:Court of Claims of Ohio
 
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2018-Ohio-4955

ARIEL VENTRESCO, etc. Plaintiff

v.

THE OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY WEXNER MEDICAL CENTER Defendant

No. 2017-00466JD

Court of Claims of Ohio

November 30, 2018

Sent to S.C. Reporter 12/10/18

DECISION OF THE MAGISTRATE

ANDERSON RENICK Magistrate Judge.

{¶1} Plaintiff brings this action alleging negligence. The case proceeded to trial on the issues of liability and damages.1 This case arises from injuries plaintiff, Ariel Ventresco, sustained on November 11, 2015 when she fell at the Ohio State University Hospital East (OSU East). After attempting to visit a friend, whom she thought was a patient at OSU East, plaintiff proceeded from the hospital toward her car, which was in a parking lot across Hawthorne Avenue. Plaintiff tripped on a curb and fell into a median that borders the parking lot and the street. Plaintiff was injured when she fell onto a metal bolt that protruded from the mulched area within the median.

{¶2} Plaintiff testified that she was visiting a friend in the hospital who was going through a difficult pregnancy. Plaintiffs fiancé, Anthony Curry, and her infant son, Sora, accompanied her to OSU East. Plaintiff related that they parked in a parking lot across the street from OSU East, and she did not notice the dedicated walkway between the parking lot and the hospital.

{¶3} Plaintiff explained that when she left the hospital she saw two individuals who were walking through the mulched area. Plaintiff testified that she believed the individuals were OSU East employees because they were wearing scrubs, and she followed them through the parking lot toward the mulched area. Plaintiff explained that she tripped over a curb and fell into the mulch, whereupon a rusty bolt that was secured into the ground impaled her left leg, causing a puncture injury. (Plaintiffs Exhibit 1.) Plaintiff stated that the mulched area looked worn down and walked through.

{¶4} Plaintiff returned to OSU East for medical treatment. Plaintiff testified that she experienced severe pain, bruising, and cramping in the area that was injured. Plaintiff explained that she subsequently received additional treatment at Fairfield Medical Center and Grant Medical Center.

{¶5} Anthony Curry, plaintiffs fiancé, accompanied her at the time she was injured, and he testified that he did not see her fall because he was watching their son, Sora. Curry explained that he was not aware that the bolt was in the ground until after the incident.

{¶6} Al Smith testified that he has served as the assistant director of facility services at OSU East since 2003, and that he is responsible for maintenance and electrical services at OSU East, including landscaping adjacent to the parking lots. Smith explained that independent contractors perform landscaping on a quarterly basis, excluding mowing and watering. Further, he testified that mulch was applied once each year in the spring and that hospital maintenance staff are not responsible for mulching.

{¶7} Smith testified that he became aware of maintenance issues through reports from various sources, including a work order system, individual reports, and an employee who inspects the hospital exterior. Smith stated that he was not aware of the bolts in the mulch until after plaintiff fell and became injured. During cross-examination, Smith acknowledged that plaintiff was injured on defendant's property and he testified that he determined that a light post had once been installed in the area where plaintiff fell.

{¶8} "To prevail in a negligence action, a plaintiff must demonstrate that (1) the defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff, (2) the defendant breached that duty, and (3) the defendant's breach proximately caused the plaintiff to be injured." Lang v. Holly Hill Motel, Inc., 122 Ohio St.3d 120, 2009-Ohio-2495, ¶ 10. "Under Ohio common law of premises liability, the status of the person who enters upon the land of another, specifically, trespasser, licensee, or invitee, defines the scope of the legal duty that a landowner owes the entrant." Kleisch v. Cleveland State Univ., 10th Dist. Franklin No. 05AP-289, 2006-Ohio-1300, ¶ 11.

Status

{¶9} "Invitees are persons who rightfully come upon the premises of another by invitation, express or implied, for some purpose which is beneficial to the owner." Gladon v. Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Auth., 75 Ohio St.3d 312, 315 (1996). "The status of an invitee is not absolute but is limited by the landowner's invitation. '* * * The visitor has the status of an invitee only while he is on part of the land to which his invitation extends -- or in other words, the part of the land upon which the possessor gives him reason to believe that his...

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