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SANTA ANA : Woman Settles Slip-Fall Lawsuit

A Westminster woman who underwent two brain surgeries after slipping and landing chin first on a freshly mopped floor will receive up to $1.4 million over her lifetime in a settlement reached Monday with a local storage company where the fall occurred.

The settlement in Orange County Superior Court between Becky Haines and Public Storage Inc. of Stanton averted a trial set for Monday to determine damages in the case, said her lawyer, Thierry Colaw.

A jury in April held the storage company liable for negligence, finding it shared 80% of the blame for the February, 1992, accident, he said.

Haines, 38, had gone to the company to get information about renting storage space and was leaving the office when she slipped on the wet floor and landed on her chin, Colaw said.

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“Unbeknown to her, a Public Storage employee had just mopped the floor and had not put any warnings or cones out,” Colaw said. “The employee said in trial she could see herself there were some damp areas on the floor.”

The fall ruptured a benign tumor in Haines’ brain, a tumor she didn’t even know existed, requiring two brain surgeries, Colaw said.

Her medical bills reached about $108,000 and she continues to suffer permanent injuries that include an inability to travel to higher altitudes, which prevents her from flying, her lawyer said.

“She’s got a lot she still has to live with,” Colaw said. “She can try and move on with her life now.”

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Bill Rummler, an attorney who represented Public Storage, said a key question in the case was how much the fall affected Haines’ pre-existing tumor and whether she would have needed surgery without the fall.

The settlement, he said, “was a compromise by both sides on this issue.”


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