Sidewalk / Water Meter Fall Case

Owens v. Meterreaders LLc et al., Multnomah County Case No. 14CV06630

Plaintiff Owens was a pedestrian walking on a sidewalk that had an underground water meter box below it. The box was installed flush to the sidewalk with a removable cover to allow access to the meter.  When Owens stepped onto the cover it moved due to structural defects and caused Owens to fall.  She suffered injuries to her cervical spine and shoulder, including a fractured humerus. Her injuries required surgical repair.  She brought this lawsuit against Metereaders LLC, the company responsible for reading and inspecting the meters, for failing to adequately inspect the meter box and report the need for maintenance to the City of Troutdale.  She also sued the City of Troutdale for failing to inspect and maintain the meter box. Plaintiff sought $149,000.00 in past medical expenses and $1,500,000.00 in non-economic damages.

Defendant Metereaders LLC denied liability and asserted comparative negligence, claiming that Owens failed to keep a reasonable lookout for the dangerous conditions and failed to walk in a reasonably careful manner.

Defendant City of Troutdale also asserted affirmative defenses including comparative fault (failing to keep a proper lookout), recreational immunity (ORS 105.672-ORS 105.696) and discretionary immunity.  They also brought cross-claims against Metereaders LLC for breach of contract.  They contended that Metereaders LLC failed to report the defect as required in their contract.

Plaintiff’s Counsel – Thomas Melville

Defense Counsel – Edward S. McGlone III (City of Troutdale) and Christopher Drotzmann (Metereaders LLC)

Verdict – $145,746.70.  The verdict was for $264,994.00 including $144,994.00 in economic damages and $120,000 in non-economic damages.  However, fault was apportioned 10% to Metereaders LLC, 45% to the City of Troutdale and 45% to Plaintiff.  So the verdict was reduced by 45% to $145,746.70.

Date – September 18, 2015

September 25, 2015

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