A jury in Florida has awarded $5 million compensation for a pelvis injury to a man who was seriously hurt when the roof of a self-storage unit collapsed on top of him.
In January 2009, Stephen Wolkoff (70) from Deerfield Beach in Broward County was inside his rented self-storage unit when the framed ceiling collapsed on top of him – trapping him under 3,000 pounds of debris. When he was released from the building, he was taken to North Broward General Hospital, where he was diagnosed with a fractured pelvis, a ruptured urethra and nerve damage to both legs.
Stephen remained in hospital for two months recovering from his injuries, after which he was transferred to the John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore where he underwent surgery to realign his pelvis, reconnect his urethra and implant an artificial sphincter to help drain his bladder. He also underwent a colostomy procedure and had to wear a colostomy bag for three years after his discharge from hospital.
After being discharged from hospital, Stephen sought legal advice and made a claim for pelvis injury compensation against the owner of the self-storage unit – Sunshine Storage Inc. – claiming that the company had failed to maintain the unit in a safe condition and that a loft had been constructed above the unit without a permit and not in conformity with the building code.
Sunshine Storage contested the claim for pelvis injury compensation on the grounds that Stephen had removed beams from the unit´s walls which were supporting the roof, and that this is what caused the roof to collapse on him. However, they also added the engineer who designed the loft and the contractor who built it as Fabre defendants (a defendant that is not named in the compensation claim, but who can still be blamed for an accident occurring).
As the two parties were unable to come to an agreement, the case was heard at Broward County Circuit Court before Judge Jack Tuter. After eight days of evidence and four days of deliberations, the jury returned a verdict in Stephen´s favor – although finding him 10 percent liable through his own contributory negligence. Therefore, the pre-determined compensation for pelvis injury was reduced to $5,091,000, with liability shared between the three defendants.