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Posted in Personal Injury on September 14, 2017   |  by Gary Burger

1.4 Million Deck Collapse Premises Liability

I have these articles here, right? You’re laughing. So, in this case, which was a different case featured in the Missouri Lawyers newspaper, my clients, the Macharias were sitting on their back deck on Memorial Day with their cousin, and the deck collapsed, and they fell, and Mary sustained a low back herniated disc, and Michael sustained a bad fracture of his ankle, he had two surgeries, plates and screws.

In this case, Joel was talking about the multiple parties here. We sued the apartment owner, the condo owner who leased it to them, we sued the condominium association, and we sued the management company that Joel alluded to in this Nico’s case. We sued the management company, and we litigated this for a long time. No one wanted to take responsibility. We ended up settling this case for 1.435 million dollars, and I went and I visited the Macharias’ home about a couple of weeks ago and saw the home that they built, that they bought with some of the money from this case.

We did a lot with that case, structuring the settlement, doing different stuff to take care of them for the rest of their lives, and I thought that was a significant recovery. We did a pile of work on that case. One of the things about our firm is we’re not afraid to do the hard work, and I had piles of documents. For the mediation of this case, I made these huge exhibits of these timelines of the complaints that they got about these decks. It was outstanding.

The day after this happened, they had submitted a press release. The management company submitted a press release saying they weren’t at fault and it was the owners at fault. In the deposition of the management person, I got her to admit that press release had three lies in it, and she admitted to lies in the deposition. The day after the incident, the St. Louis County came up and put code violations on 60 decks in that condominium association because they weren’t bolted into the wall, the day after this, and we got in a, what’s called a per se violation.

So, one of the things we do is I have the BOCA code sitting over there, the building code. In these types of cases, if you can prove that there are statutes and regulations that govern the safety. Well, you worked in construction before you were a lawyer. There are a lot of rules attendant to safe dwellings and safe buildings, and if those are violated we get them on a per se violation, they’re automatically liable. Sometimes that warrants punitive damages.

So, that was a significant recovery and a significant evidence that we did in that case. But, there really is a lot to navigate around in some of the premises liability cases with these instances.