Poorly Maintained Bank Owned Property Proves Perilous To Bicyclist
On September 18, 2009 Greg Ladner was on his way to visit a friend at a local restaurant on US 41. Mr. Ladner had visited the property at 5100 N. Tamiami Trail before, but had always used the entrance at US 41. This was the first time Greg entered the property using the side entrance to the parking lot on Mecca Drive.
Greg was riding a bicycle, and as he crossed over the paved surface connecting to the street, the pavement ended and he found himself traversing a poorly maintained gravel portion of the parking lot. Greg began slowing down but it was too late. Within seconds he reached an area that was littered with potholes, some of which exceeded 4 inches in depth. Greg’s front tire hit one of the potholes and he was thrown from his bike.
As a result of the fall Greg sustained four fractures of the right leg and a posterior lip fracture of the right posterior tibia. Greg’s injuries were so extensive, he ultimately required 6 separate surgical procedures. Greg’s right ankle has been fused and he now faces a lifetime of limited mobility, increased pain and severe joint arthritis.
The owner of this property was Synovus Bank, who had foreclosed on the property nine months earlier. The property became a part of the bank’s REO (Real Estate Owned) portfolio. The bank placed a professional property manager in charge of the property and listed it for sale. For one year prior to this incident, the property was leased to the restaurant Mr. Ladner was visiting. The Bank’s property manager visited the property several times during the year to check on his tenant, but despite having full knowledge of the dangerous condition of the parking lot, he failed to repair, maintain or “rope off” the potholes.
In Florida a landowner owes two duties to an invitee. First, to use reasonable care in maintaining the premises in a reasonably safe condition, and second, to give the invitee warning of concealed perils that are known, or should be known, to the landowner but are unknown to the invitee. Furthermore, business owners have a duty to provide safe ingress and egress to their premises. This duty to keep the premises safe for patrons extends to all portions of the premises that are necessary or convenient for patrons to use in the normal course of business at that location. Unfortunately, injuries resulting from poorly maintained commercial properties have become common due to the high number of properties that have gone into foreclosure in the recent market downturn.
In this case the Defendant, Synovus Bank, breached their duty to Mr. Ladner by failing to maintain their property in a safe manner and failing to correct known unsafe conditions. Ultimately, we were able to resolve Mr. Ladner’s claim for a significant six-figure settlement. If you, your family members or friends are hurt as a result of a poorly maintained property, please consider making a call to Wittmer & Linehan PLLC for assistance.