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YOU CAN’T ALWAYS BELIEVE WHAT YOU READ

Plaintiff, a 44-year old physician in Massachusetts, slipped and fell in a parking lot during the winter. She sustained multiple injuries as a result of the fall, and would be unable to perform her normal job functions for an extended period of time. A suit was filed, claiming that the owner of the parking lot as well as the maintenance firm that was hired to remove snow and ice, were negligent in their duties.

During deposition, the physician testified that she slipped and fell on a patch of ice. Attorneys representing the defendants presented evidence in the form of official U.S. Government Certified Weather Documents, which indicated that the temperature leading up to and at the time of the incident was above the freezing mark of 32 degrees. This served to diminish the credibility of the plaintiff’s testimony that it was ice and not snow that caused her to slip. Her attorney thought otherwise, and called upon the expertise of COMPUWEATHER.

By analyzing the temperature profile from the time of the last snowfall and up through the time of the accident, (including a review of the very same certified data that defense had presented) forensic meteorologists at COMPUWEATHER were able to put the matter on ice. At trial, it was explained to the jury that temperature readings recorded at officially-recognized weather observing sites, such as the one which defense presented as evidence, are taken at a height of 10 meters, or over 30 feet, above the ground. At ground level, and in particular on a dark-colored surface such as a paved parking lot, the temperature will be a few to several degrees colder than at that 30+ foot level where the thermometer sensor is located. So despite the fact that the official temperature was 34-36 degrees leading up to the time of the accident, at ground level it was likely anywhere from 28-32 degrees. As a result of that, the snow which had fallen on the previous day and melted could have easily become frozen, forming a layer of ice in that parking lot at the time of occurrence.

With the plaintiff’s testimony now given credibility by the COMPUWEATHER meteorologist’s explanation, the jury came back with a verdict in favor of plaintiff in the amount of $2.2 million. Prior to trial, defense had made a settlement offer of $350,000.