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Baltimore jury awards $585k to CEO after head injury at Hilton

A Baltimore jury has awarded nearly $600,000 to a woman who sustained permanent injuries after a waiter collided into her and caused her to hit her head on the marble floor at the Hilton Baltimore Hotel.

After a six-day trial and three hours of deliberations Aug. 22, the jury of three men and three women found Sylvana Coche suffered nearly $485,000 in lost profits for her business and $100,000 in noneconomic damages after the incident in March 2013.

Coche was in town attending the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council annual conference and networking at the lobby bar at the time of the incident, the lawsuit states.

While the facts of the case seemed fairly straightforward, according to Coche’s lawyer, the defense argued her injuries were from stepping on a stanchion, one of the poles with ropes used for crowd control.

The defense also disputed whether Coche’s injuries were caused by the incident at the Hilton or were due to prior health issues, said Jeffrey Quinn, of Bekman, Marder & Adkins LLC in Baltimore.

Coche was in a car crash in 2003 and would have some depressive episodes and anxiety, but it didn’t impact her ability to do her job, Quinn said. In 2007, Coche opened her own IT consulting firm.

“Clearly the earlier accident did not impact her brain function,” Quinn said he argued at trial.

Coche’s health problems were aggravated after the incident at the Hilton, Quinn said. She also experienced memory issues and fatigue, Quinn said, new symptoms that may have swayed the jury in his client’s favor.

“To a large extent I think it was the fact witnesses that testified on her behalf, explaining that this was in fact a difference,” Quinn said. “At the end of the day, hearing from those people helped solidify for the jury that there was something different here.”

Coche is still able to work, but not at the full speed she used to before the 2013 injury, Quinn added.

Before trial, the parties went into mediation and there were some settlement talks, but nothing to extent of the jury award. Coche was happy with the verdict, Quinn said.

“She was pleased that after five years there was some vindication that this event actually did happen,” he said.

The Baltimore Hotel Corp., which runs the Hilton Baltimore Hotel, and its attorney did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

Quinn said he’s still waiting to hear about an appeal, but anticipates the Baltimore Hotel Corp. may raise an issue related to the potential business loss.

Sylvana Coche v. The Baltimore Hotel Corporation

Court: Baltimore City Circuit

Case No.: 24C17003237

Judge: Robert Taylor

Proceeding: Jury trial

Outcome: $484,643 in lost profits and $100,000 in noneconomic damages

Dates:

Incident: March 12, 2012

Suit filed: June 9, 2017

Verdict: Aug. 22, 2018

Plaintiffs’ Attorney: Jeffrey Quinn of Bekman, Marder & Adkins LLC in Baltimore

Defendant’s Attorney: Rodger Robertson of The Law Offices of Joseph Jagielski in Baltimore

Count: Negligence

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