This case was previously tried to a defense verdict but was successfully appealed to the Supreme Court of Virginia, which reversed the verdict, based upon introduction into evidence of prior alcohol use by plaintiff, which was irrelevant and prejudicial.

Plaintiff tripped and fell on a dislodged metal grate that was supposed to be flush with the sidewalk in a common area of a shopping center. Plaintiff’s initial diagnosis was a sprained right ankle and left thumb but he then developed carpal tunnel syndrome in his left wrist and one surgery on his left elbow. Plaintiff sued the landlord/owner and property management company of the common area where he fell. Plaintiff had a former employee of a nearby commercial tenant who would testify that he notified the defendant on several past occasions that the protruding grate had been dislodged by vehicular traffic and requested that the grate be secured. The grate was never secured.

Defendant argued that the accident could not have occurred as plaintiff alleged and that any danger would have been open and obvious.

Plaintiff obtained a motion in limine ruling that barred defendant from introducing into evidence prior and subsequent accidents, injuries and medical treatment to unrelated body parts, as well as prior conviction for a crime of moral turpitude and a medical record finding of prior alcoholism problems.