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CONTACT 13: Life-changing misstep at popular nightclub

Posted at 4:58 PM, Oct 11, 2016
One misstep and a life changed forever.  That's what a valley woman is claiming in a lawsuit against a popular upscale nightclub.
"I'm in pain all the time. 24/7." 
Life wasn't always this way for Blanca Jimenez.
The 35-year-old loves the outdoors. She was a swimmer, a runner and always active with family and friends. 
"It totally changed my life. Totally did."
Jimenez says that change came in a split second on Oct. 16, 2014. Security video shows her and a friend as they entered Blue Martini in Town Square. That's where Jimenez took a small step down, on what appeared to be an unremarkable staircase.  
"There's a step there," she says. "And it's a middle step that you cannot see at all. So when I step on there that's when I went all the way to the floor."
She came crashing down to the lower concrete floor, according to her lawsuit against Blue Martini. 
"The whole body hurts," Jimenez explains. "And most of it it was my arm because the bone was out."
Jimenez's fun night out quickly ended in the emergency room with a broken left arm. Also, her right knee required surgery and is permanently scarred. 
"Then I have my back, like my neck. And the lower back. That's the most painful now." 
Missing from that Blue Martini security video is Jimenez leaving the popular nightspot -- limping out with the help of friends. That's because according to her attorney, Blue Martini didn't keep that portion of the video.    
Jimenez says she wasn't drunk that night, not even tipsy, consuming three drinks over four hours. She blames her fall on a danger she says Blue Martini chose to ignore.
"It makes me angry because I know that they know about that step," Jimenez says.
Attorney Neal Hyman discovered a history of violations of county building codes. "Each and every one intended to prevent the exact accident that happened in this case."
Hyman says the lighting in the area where Jimenez fell is way too dim, half as bright as the building code requires, making it hard to see the middle step -- which itself isn't the right size. Code requires it to be 11 inches deep. 
"When our expert when out there and tested it, it was 9 1/2 inches," says Hyman. 
Why is the one and a half inch difference such a big deal? Jimenez's lawyer argues the wrong dimension makes that middle step dangerous. Because it was short, she stepped down on the outside edge, never gained solid footing and was thrown off balance.
"So I hit the end and then my ankle twist," Jimenez says. 
And she is not the first person hurt in same area at Blue Martini.
"When you find out that a business owner actually learned about the violation before and did not fix it," says Hyman. "It's almost to the degree of, they should be punished." 
Court records show in 2013 -- a year before Jimenez's fall -- an on-duty Clark County Fire Inspector was injured during an inspection after a fall on the same step. That inspector also filed a lawsuit citing problems with lighting and that "defects are against state, county and city code."
"Where does it stop?" asks Hyman.  "The third person? The fifth person. How many people really have to get injured in this place?"
Jimenez is on a long road to recovery. She's missed a lot of work, has to take pain medications and will probably have back surgery. She may need pain management for the rest of her life. All due to one misstep.
"It gets sad for me," she says. "I cannot go dancing. I cannot run. I walk weird."
Jimenez says she also wants to see the hazard fixed. 
"I wish that they could change it because a tragedy like that could change the life of a another person."
Blue Martini says no one can comment on the lawsuit because it's in trial.  
Jimenez is seeking damages of more than a million dollars, to cover medical bills, loss of income and related expenses.