1/22/2006 - Posted by:
Gallagher Law Firm
Phone: 810-227-2020
Alt. Phone: 517-861-0577
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Gordon Van Patten vs Colonial Lanes Bowling Center

Gordon Van Patten vs Colonial Lanes Bowling Center
in the Circuit Court for the County of Washtenaw, Ann Arbor, MI.

One of the more interesting cases we handled was one involving Gordon Van Patten, then age 33, who was a truck driver/delivery man for a laundry company. He had been honored for being an outstanding employee for his efficiency just prior to his injury. He was also an avid bowler.

Gordon was bowling in the third frame with his bowling team at the Colonial Lanes Bowling Center when he slipped on a piece of gum that was on the alley and fell on his left knee. Gordon is a very powerful gentleman, some 6’3” in height and 300 lbs. of weight, all of which crashed down on his left knee. The knee swelled a bit and he tried to continue bowling that night but was unable to. Over the course of the next few days, he suffered as his knee continued to swell. He tried to continue working, but finally sought medical treatment from an Orthopedic Surgeon.

The injury to Gordon’s knee resolved without a surgery; however, interestingly, he had an asymptomatic tumor in the back part of his thigh which became symptomatic as a result of the trauma of the fall and finally required surgical removal. I worked closely with his treating Surgeon to establish that, had he not fallen, the tumor might have remained dormant because of his age. This injury severely restricted Gordon's ability to climb stairs. As a result, he found it necessary to seek new employment at a lower pay scale.

In the course of my research of Slip and Fall cases in bowling alleys, we discovered that plaintiffs were rarely able to establish negligence on the part of the owner of the bowling alley premises because the defect was either open, obvious and visible, or had not been present long enough for the owners to be aware of it.

In Gordon’s case, however, we were able to show that the bowling alley was negligent when we took depositions of all of the bowling alley personnel. The supervisor of maintenance admitted that the gum substance on the alley must have been present for a long period of time because it had hardened. Since the entire floor was mopped twice each day, he felt fresh gum would have stuck to the mop. We also obtained statements from all of the members of the competing bowling team and were able to show that the manager of the the bowling alley had to scrape the dried gum on the bowling alley with a putty scraper, and that it had flattened out and could not really be seen as it blended in with the other dots or natural wooden markings on the bowling alley surface itself. The Case settled after mediation for a substantial amount.
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