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Man hurt in fall from defective ladder – $925,000 Settlement

Virginia Lawyers Weekly//February 26, 2018

Man hurt in fall from defective ladder – $925,000 Settlement

Virginia Lawyers Weekly//February 26, 2018

The man hurt was a resident of Norfolk and a disabled former Navy military policeman. He purchased a ladder online to install in his home. Unknown to the customer, the ladder was made from chipboard. The ladder system had a catastrophic failure and dumped the victim onto a cement floor.

A site inspection was held after notification to the manufacturer and installer. The expert hired by plaintiff’s counsel confirmed that the ladder was made and designed defectively. The ladder system could not have maintained the amount of weight that it claimed to be rated for and likely violated the industry standards for testing and performance.

The injuries included: Multiple vertebral fractures, multiple rib fractures, nerve damage to lower extremity, and a broken hip

Although there was some issue of pre-existing back and leg conditions, the diagnostic testing from before and after the fall documented severe worsening of the numbness and dysfunction in the patient’s leg. A surgical procedure was required for harm to the sciatic nerve.

Plaintiff’s counsel presented the case to the lawyer for the manufacturer pre-suit. There was limited insurance coverage of $1,000,000.00. The slight reduction from the full amount of the available insurance reflected the discount necessary to get the case resolved immediately and was likely less than the costs of litigation. The maker and seller of the ladder had gone out of business by the time the claim was being handled.

As is often the case, the quality of the person who was hurt made a lot of difference in the case evaluation. His presentation as an honest family man with a wife and daughter helped the insurance company to make the right decision. This case was a good example of how complex litigation can be resolved effectively when both sides work cooperatively to analyze a case and did not require filing suit or even mediation.

Complicated payback issues were posed related to Medicare and Tricare. Part of the work-up was a future life care plan, so a Medicare set-aside had to be used.


Type of action: Product Liability

Injuries alleged: Low back fractures and broken rib and pelvic bones

Name of case: Confidential

Date resolved: Nov. 1, 2017

Special damages: Medical bills totaling $237,495

Verdict or settlement: Settlement

Amount: $925,000

Attorneys for plaintiff: John M. Cooper and Michael O. Snellings, Norfolk

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