Earlier this month, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals heard an appeal from a slip-and-fall case that arose out of the Southern District of Florida. In the case of Sorrels v. NCL, the plaintiff was injured in a slip-and-fall accident as a customer aboard the defendant’s cruise liner. The plaintiff and her husband sued the cruise line for negligence in failing to maintain safe conditions aboard the boat.
At trial, the evidence showed that the plaintiff slipped on the deck of the cruise ship after it had rained. As she slipped, she put her wrist down to lessen the blow to her body and ended up fracturing her wrist. To help prove their case of negligence against the cruise line, the plaintiffs called an expert witness to testify regarding the coefficient of friction (COF) on the ship deck. A COF is a scientific term used to measure how slippery a surface is: the higher the number, the less slippery the surface.
The expert conducted some tests on the very same deck the plaintiff slipped on, although the tests were not performed until roughly a year and a half after the accident. However, to mimic the exact conditions of the deck on the day of the accident, the expert did conduct the tests after a rainfall.