BEAUMONT – A Jefferson County jury recently delivered a $251,894.58 verdict against J.C. Penney and Parkdale Mall following the civil trial of a trip and fall lawsuit.

Plaintiff Janice Smith filed suit against J.C. Penney and Parkdale Mall on April 15, 2014 in Jefferson County District Court.

Smith claims she sustained injuries after tripping and falling on a defective storm drain on a sidewalk outside of the J.C. Penney department store, at Parkdale Mall in Beaumont, on Jan. 19, 2013.

A jury trial was held earlier this month, with jurors finding both J.C. Penney and Parkdale Mall negligent, assigning each defendant 50 percent of the blame, according to the charge of the court, filed Sept. 6.

Jurors awarded Smith $108,000 for her past and future mental anguish, $80,000 for her past and future impairment and $63,894.58 for her past and future medical expenses.

Nearly two years prior to the trial, court records show J.C. Penney filed a motion for summary judgment on Nov. 24, 2014, asserting Smith could not prove the company had any actual knowledge of the dangerous condition.

J.C. Penney further argued Smith did not produce any evidence to sustain her burden and asked the court to dismiss her claims against it with prejudice.

On July 15, 2015 Judge Kent Walston, 58th District Court, denied the motion, court records show

Smith’s suit alleges the dangerous storm drain was raised up with gaps large enough to rip the plaintiff’s shoe, causing the fall that caused Smith serious injures to her knee and mouth.

In her petition, Smith said she was seeking $1 million in damages, interest and court costs.

Beaumont attorneys Robert L. Florance IV and Nathan M. Brandimarte of Orgain Bell and Tucker LLP are representing her in the case.

J.C. Penny is represented by Michael McGown, attorney for the Beaumont law firm Benckenstein, Norvell, and Nathan.

Jefferson County District Court Case No. A195-611

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