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A 54 year old man slipped and fell outside of a casino on the Las Vegas strip. He sustained injuries to his leg, shoulder and head. The suit filed by his attorney stated that the man had fallen due to a layer of ice on the sidewalk where the incident took place.

Attorneys representing the insurance carrier which covers the casino sought to find out the source of the ice. After all, this was Las Vegas, a location in a desert area not known for wintry type precipitation. They contacted COMPUWEATHER looking for an explanation. First, the meteorologist assigned to the case did a complete analysis of the weather in Las Vegas on the days leading up to the accident. He determined the weather had been dry, with no precipitation reported at anytime. Ice forming by virtue of rain, snow or sleet was immediately ruled out. After receiving this information, the defense attorney questioned the plaintiff. In deposition, he stated that the source of the water which froze into ice came from a nearby lawn sprinkler which goes on and off automatically. It was cold the night that he fell, so the wayward water from the sprinkler must have become frozen just before he walked across it.

Defense attorneys came back to COMPUWEATHER looking for additional information. The forensic meteorologist working the case did an analysis of the daily high and low temperatures for the preceding 30 days. What he found was that the temperature was indeed cold at the time the slip took place. However despite the 29 degree temperature at the time, it was nearly impossible for the water from the sprinkler to have become frozen. The ground was simply not that cold. Temperatures over the preceding month had dropped into the 20s on a few occasions. But by in large, low temperatures during that time were in the 30s and 40s, along with daytime highs mostly in the 50s and 60s. This was not the type of temperature profile that would lead to a cold ground, which would have been needed in order for water to freeze that night.

Armed with this information, defense refused any offer of settlement presented by plaintiff’s attorney. Eventually, the plaintiff admitted that it may have been just water, and not ice, which he stepped on that evening. With his testimony now lacking credibility, the suit was eventually dropped.