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Hawaii Prisoner Awarded $15,000.50 for Slip and Fall

Hawaii Prisoner Awarded $15,000.50 for Slip and Fall

A Hawaiian prisoner has been awarded $15,000.50 for a slip and fall that occurred in a prison kitchen. A related claim for damages for a slip and fall that occurred near a shower was rejected, however.

Anthony Jones slipped and fell a couple of times while at the Halawa Correctional Facility. The first incident occurred in July 2005 when Jones slipped and fell while walking past a shower stall on a wet, slippery concrete floor. The floor had no mats and a very low slip resistance. The second incident occurred on December 5, 2005, while Jones was working in the kitchen. Jones slipped and fell while carrying a tray of spoons.

Jones sued the State of Hawaii, alleging that the wet shower floor and loose kitchen tile presented an unreasonable risk of harm to him and that the state was aware of the risk but did nothing about it. Jones sought damages for injuries that he allegedly suffered to his back.

A court arbitrator awarded Jones $19,000 in special damages, $65,000 in general damages, and costs. The state appealed.

The court reversed. While the state had notice that the wet shower floor presented an unreasonable risk of harm, Jones failed to prove that he sustained any injury or aggravation of a preexisting injury due to the fall, the court held. Consequently, the state’s “negligence was not a legal cause of the plaintiff’s back injury or any aggravation of any preexisting back injury or condition.” Accordingly, no damages were awarded.

Turning to the kitchen incident, the court agreed that the state was negligent. However, the court found Jones was also negligent. Jones “failed to exercise due care for his safety; he knew areas of disrepair existed,” the court wrote. Accordingly, the court awarded Jones $1.00 in nominal damages and $30,000 for pain and suffering. However, after apportioning liability at 50%, the award was reduced to $15,000.50. See: Jones v. State of Hawaii, Civil No. 060194 (1st Cir. Hawaii).

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Related legal case

Jones v. State of Hawaii