Sommers Schwartz attorney Ken Watkins secured a confidential multimillion-dollar settlement for the estate of a 33-year-old man who died from injuries sustained when a guardrail at his apartment building failed. According to the complaint, the railing was not regularly inspected or properly maintained by the maintenance staff. Photos taken at the scene of the accident showed that a top bracket was disconnected from the railing, a center base bracket was badly broken and rusted, and screws supporting the lower brackets were dislodged from the wall; these are just some of the more than 50 guardrail and handrail violations cited by the township ordinance enforcement officer the next day following the fatality. The detached railing did not support the decedent’s weight when he leaned on it, causing him to plummet three stories onto a concrete floor, resulting in multiple serious injuries and his ultimate death. The plaintiff filed the premises liability lawsuit seeking compensation for the decedent’s pain, suffering, and wrongful death, and the loss of income, society, and companionship to his loved ones. Although clearly on notice of the pending litigation, the apartment manager advised the police that the defendant no longer wanted the railing, brackets, or bolts that the police had in their possession. The railing and hardware were then destroyed, and because they could not be produced for further examination, the plaintiff moved for summary disposition and a directed verdict on the inference that the evidence would have been adverse to the defense. Ken partnered with senior shareholder Sam Meklir to prosecute and try the matter. The case evaluation award was only $500,000.00 which was accepted by the defense and rejected by Plaintiff. The case was settled on the second day of trial.
Our attorneys have been featured on local and national media outlets, including: