Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Home / Verdicts & Settlements / Law clerk’s courthouse fall prompts $750K settlement

Law clerk’s courthouse fall prompts $750K settlement

A law clerk who who took a spill on the recently buffed stone steps of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Columbia agreed to a $750,000 settlement on the second day of his jury trial, according to his attorney.

According to court documents, Patrick Mohan was clerking for bankruptcy court Judge John Waites on Dec. 2, 2013, at the time of his fall. He was leaving the courthouse when he slipped and fell down several steps, striking his back, buttocks, wrist and elbow.



Mohan’s attorney, Robert Goings of Columbia, said that the company charged with cleaning and maintaining the courthouse, Crockett Facilities Services, had removed slip-resistant safety strips from the stairs before waxing and polishing them, leaving them in a dangerous condition.

“They had waxed and buffed the steps to a bright, beautiful but slippery shine and failed to put the safety strips back down.”

The company also failed to use signs or other methods to warn occupants that the steps were unsafe, an allegation that its attorney, Brett Bayne of McAngus Goudelock & Courie in Columbia, conceded.

Bayne said workers, cleaning the floors over Thanksgiving weekend, ran out of safety strips and planned to soon replace them on the seldom-used staircase. As it turned out, Mohan got there first.

“We were fully at fault for the fall,” Bayne said. “They simply forgot [to use warning signs].”



Mohan said that he suffered “significant traumatic injuries,” including permanent back injuries, from the fall.

Bayne offered some evidence that Mohan had a history of back pain, and possibly an already-herniated disk, citing a fall in his garage that sent Mohan to the doctor just weeks before the courthouse slip.

Goings didn’t deny that Mohan had some preexisting issues, but labeled them aches and pains “like everybody else in America has.”

Though each attorney complimented the other on his professionalism, there were plenty of differences of opinion.

Once trial began, Bayne said, it came to light that several months after his fall, Mohan posted on social media that he had bought a Peloton indoor exercise bike and was enjoying the intense workouts it provided him.

Goings said his client was engaged in recommended, non-impact cardio training.

Bayne said that a Peloton bike involves high-intensity, high-impact workouts.

“He testified on direct that he was sedentary and hadn’t done any exercise at all, except to take a walk at times,” Bayne said.

“It was an exercise bike,” Goings said. “Every grandmother in America has one.”

Bayne countered, “It’s not something grandmothers have in their living room.”

The settlement came after lunch on the trial’s second day. Bayne said that previously, Mohan had “adamantly turned down” an offer “much greater” than $750,000.

Prior media coverage — one newspaper article specifically — of the settlement failed to note something that Bayne considers significant.

“The article says that he had $40K in medicals and he got a $750,000 settlement — that sounds pretty good,” Bayne said. “He had $2.75 million in future medicals he presented to the jury, and settled for $750,000. It doesn’t sound as good when you put it that way.”

However it sounds, both sides say they are happy with the outcome.

“The settlement reflects a good number and a good compromise … given all the potential evidence and all the potential damages the jury would get to consider,” Bayne said.

“We’re wonderfully pleased with the settlement,” Goings said. “My client’s very happy.”


Follow Heath Hamacher on Twitter @SCLWHamacher



Amount: $750,000

Injuries alleged: Herniated disk

Case name: Mohan v. Crockett Facilities Services Inc.

Court: District Court of South Carolina – Columbia Division

Judge: R. Bryan Harwell

Case No.: 4:15-cv-04268

Date of settlement: April 25

Attorneys for plaintiff: Robert Goings and Jessica Gooding of the Goings Law Firm in Columbia

Attorneys for defendant: Brett Bayne and J. Andrew Delaney of McAngus Goudelock & Courie in Columbia

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *