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Home / Verdicts & Settlements / Modular home lifted from foundation during tornado – $1,711,741 Verdict

Modular home lifted from foundation during tornado – $1,711,741 Verdict

The decedent purchased a modular home from the defendant. During the tornado that hit Gloucester in April 2011, the home was lifted off its foundation, flew through the air for several yards and flew through the garage where the decedent was working. The decedent was subsequently found dead on the slab of the garage after the tornado. The decedent, 53 and single, was survived by three sisters and his father. During the course of discovery, it was determined that the house had been improperly fastened to its foundation by the defendant, and it was established that the defendant violated several portions of the building code. At the trial of the case, the defendant defended on two grounds: (1) the strength of the tornado was such that even if the house had been properly fastened down, it would have been ripped from its foundation; and (2) the garage where the decedent was during the storm was destroyed prior to the house hitting it and the decedent was likely killed prior to the house hitting the garage and the house merely came to rest beside the garage rather than having destroyed it. The court instructed the jury that the defendant was negligent for having violated the building code and the only issue for the jury to decide was whether the negligence of the defendant was a proximate cause of the decedent’s death.

The jury deliberated for two hours and returned a verdict in the amount of $1,711,741.25 in favor of the estate. Post-trial motions are currently pending.


Type of action: Wrongful death
Name of case: Burcher, Adm’r v. Custom Builders Express, LLC
Court: York County Circuit Court
Case no.: CL11-4341
Tried before: Jury
Judge: Frederick B. Lowe
Date: Jan. 15, 2014
Special damages: Funeral expenses of $10,741.25
Demand: $600,000
Offer: $25,000
Verdict or settlement: Verdict
Amount: $1,711,741.25
Attorney for plaintiff: Robert J. Haddad, Virginia Beach
Attorneys for defendant: C. Jay Robbins, IV, Richmond
Plaintiff’s experts: Charles Manning, Ph.D., P.E., engineer; Jeff Lawson, meteorologist
Defendant’s experts: Dano Holland, P.E., engineer; Joseph Veneziano, meteorologist
Insurance carrier: Benchmark Insurance Company

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