Betty slipped in a puddle of water left by grocery store employees. She fell and injured her thumb during the fall. She didn’t think she was hurt very badly, but she underwent minor surgery to repair the damage to the ligaments in her thumb. But instead of getting better, Betty’s thumb got progressively worse. She began to experience a strange burning pain, and her thumb and hand became increasingly sensitive to the touch. Then her thumb began to change color, and it often felt hot. The pain became more frequent and more severe. Betty was referred to medical specialists who told her she had reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD), also known as complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), a chronic progressive neurological condition that affects skin, muscles, joints and bones. Sometimes her thumb hurt so badly that she wanted to chop it off. She even asked her doctor to amputate her thumb, but he told her that wouldn’t relieve her symptoms of RSD. Betty tried almost everything her doctors suggested in her search for relief from the constant pain. She tried physical therapy, a variety of medications, nerve blocks, injections, radiofrequency lesioning and biofeedback. The last option Betty was given was the implantation of a dorsal column stimulator. The relentless pain and potent medications made it nearly impossible to work, and Betty had to seek legal help to pay her bills.
Barker Law Firm filed suit, and Betty learned that the grocery store employees had seen the puddle of water before Betty fell but they didn’t warn her or clean up the water before someone fell. Betty also learned that the store had written policies that required store employees to be vigilant and immediately stop what they were doing and clean up spills and other dangerous conditions on the floor. After initially denying responsibility for the incident, the grocery store eventually acknowledged its fault in causing Betty’s fall. But it denied that Betty had RSD or that it had been sustained as a result of her fall. Working closely with her lawyers, Betty’s physicians gave clear and persuasive testimony that Betty did indeed have RSD and that the most likely cause of her debilitating condition was her fall at the grocery store and the subsequent surgery. But before it would pay Betty for any of the harm she had sustained, the grocery store’s insurance company demanded that Betty be examined by a physician of their own choosing. Ultimately the truth prevailed, because the local doctor hired by the grocery store’s insurance company confirmed the diagnosis of RSD and its cause, and Betty was paid for all of her medical bills and all of her lost wages and fair compensation for all of the pain and suffering she endured because the store’s employees were so careless.