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California: Prison Visitor Settles Slip-and-Fall Suit for $175,000

Richard Allen Barton, Sr. has settled a lawsuit he filed against the State of California and officials at Avenal State Prison, agreeing to accept $175,000 in exchange for dismissal of the suit.

On July 11, 2008, while visiting a prisoner at Avenal, Barton slipped on a wet bathroom floor that had recently been mopped. He subsequently filed a personal injury complaint in state court, alleging there were no warning signs indicating the bathroom floor in the visiting area was wet on the day in question, which created a “dangerous condition of public property.”

He also alleged that state officials had been negligent for mopping the bathroom floor and leaving it wet, without proper warning signs, during visitation hours. Barton claimed he suffered loss of wages and earning capacity, as well as hospital and medical expenses, stemming from the slip-and-fall incident. His complaint sought compensatory damages in an amount to be proven at trial.

Fourteen months after filing suit, Barton signed a General Release & Settlement Agreement in exchange for $175,000, acknowledging that the injuries he sustained may be permanent and progressive, as well as recognizing that recovery was uncertain and indefinite, yet agreeing to waive all future claims which may arise from the incident.
Barton was represented by attorney Joseph Fornasero of the Sacramento law firm Van Tassell, Fornasero & Wagstaffe LLP.

PLN readers should note that the amount of the settlement was determined, to some extent, by the fact that Barton was a visitor and not a prisoner. See: Barton v. California, Superior Court of County of Kings (CA), Case No. 09C 0032.

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Related legal case

Barton v. California