A woman injured during a 2013 spa day at the historic Don CeSar Hotel was awarded nearly $400,000 for her injuries.
Lisa Schrutt is a 60-year-old St. Petersburg resident and a real estate agent with Charles Rutenberg Realty.
Using a $300 gift certificate, Schrutt, went to the Don CeSar at 3400 Gulf Blvd. in St. Pete Beach, on Nov. 10, 2013, for a massage, manicure and pedicure. At the time, she was recovering from knee surgery and walking on crutches.
Schrutt went into a handicapped stall at the spa to take a shower. Moments after she sat on a shower bench, the bench detached from the wall and collapsed. Schrutt suffered injuries to her back, knees and shoulder. In a lawsuit filed March 2015, she sought damages for negligence.
When Schrutt filed the suit, the Don CeSar initially denied she had injured herself. Any injury sustained was her own fault, the hotel claimed. Later, however, the resort blamed the accident on Hennessy Construction, a St. Petersburg builder that had installed the shower bench in question in 2008.
In a deposition, Schrutt estimates that she weighed 185 pounds at the time of the accident. She also valued the resulting injuries had cost her roughly $300,000 in lost income. Schrutt claimed that her injuries prevented her from selling multistory homes, including high-priced beach houses, because she couldn’t climb the stairs.
A jury trial in October 2017 lasted five days. The jury ruled in Schrutt’s favor and awarded her $430,000 in past and future medical expenses and pain and suffering, but zero for lost wages.
The jury also attributed 70 percent of the negligence to Hennessy Construction and 30 percent to Don CeSar and WTS International Inc., the spa’s management service named as co-defendants.
The total award ultimately was reduced to $395,246.
Schrutt posted pictures from her spa day — before the injury — on Facebook.