Defense Verdict / Fall on Handicap Ramp

Rotting Wood

Attorney John Girouard successfully obtained a defense verdict in a trial arising from a tenant’s fall on a poorly constructed and dilapidated handicap ramp. The plaintiff alleged that he was chasing his grandson up a wooden ramp when his foot went through a rotted board causing him to fall and strike his left shoulder against a concrete wall. The plaintiff alleged injuries to his left ankle and shoulder as a result of the fall.

The plaintiff testified that he had given prior notice of the defective condition to the defendant landlord on two occasions prior to the subject accident. Further, at trial the plaintiff produced photographs depicting the ramp in a state of disrepair. Since the defendant landlord had disposed of the subject ramp when replacing same, the defense could not contest the validity of the photographs.

Attorney Girouard highlighted the plaintiff’s inconsistent testimony throughout the course of litigation. The plaintiff initially testified at his deposition that the fall occurred while he was running up the ramp. At trial the plaintiff provided testimony consistent with his medical records indicating the fall actually occurred while he was running down the ramp. This inconsistency proved important because had the plaintiff actually suffered his fall while running down the ramp, there would have been no physical way for his left shoulder to strike the concrete wall. Evidence was next offered that the plaintiff was employed “under the table’ as a roofer and that the timing of the accident was more likely consistent with an injury sustained at his place of employment. The defendant also offered evidence of simmering disputes relating to the tenancy suggesting that the plaintiff’s allegations were retaliatory in nature. Lastly, Attorney Girouard introduced evidence of plaintiff’s multiple criminal conviction. In short, Attorney Girouard successfully called the plaintiff’s credibility into question and while the jury determined that the defendant negligently maintained the ramp, there was no causal relationship between that negligence and the plaintiff’s injuries.

The jury deliberated for two hours and returned with a verdict in favor of the defendant landlord. Simply put, the jury concluded that the incident did not occur as alleged by the plaintiff.

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