GRSM Dallas Trial Team Obtains Defense Verdict in Premises Liability Trial on Behalf of Property Owner

November 2023

A Gordon Rees Scully Manuskhani Dallas trial team, including Partner Bob Bragalone, Partner Soña Garcia, and Senior Counsel Ryan Fellman, recently obtained a complete defense verdict for their client, a commercial property owner, in a week-long jury trial in Dallas County. 

The plaintiff was cleaning the concrete floor of a building being renovated for use as a pawn shop and applied a solution of gasoline and water to remove adhesive. He testified that both the property owner, who was present on the work site, and his employer instructed him to use the gasoline because another cleaning product was ineffective. Both the property owner and employer disputed this testimony and claimed they had no knowledge he was using gasoline and never would have told him to do so. After hours of applying the gasoline, the pilot light of a nearby gas water heater ignited the vapors, catching the plaintiff on fire. The plaintiff suffered third-degree burns to nearly half of his body.

The plaintiff sued GRSM’s client for negligence and gross negligence, contending that it had a duty to provide safe premises and warn of any dangerous conditions. The GRSM team succeeded in convincing the court that a heightened statutory standard of actual knowledge, found in Chapter 95 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, superseded the common law standard of constructive knowledge. The pretrial demand was $17 million.

The jury rendered a take-nothing verdict for GRSM’s client.