$12.8M verdict for Wash. firefighter's fall upheld
Tuesday, February 21, 2012View full version
SEATTLE (AP) — The Washington state Court of Appeals has upheld a verdict of nearly $13 million for a Seattle firefighter who was severely injured when he fell down an unmarked, unsecured pole hole at a fire station in the Rainier Beach neighborhood.
Firefighter Mark Jones fell 15 feet down the hole in the middle of a night in December 2003. He suffered traumatic brain injuries and a shattered pelvis. Many of his vertebrae were broken as were nearly all of his right ribs.
The city of Seattle appealed, saying among other things that it should have been allowed to present evidence at trial of Jones' prior alcohol use, even though he had not been drinking the night of the fall. An expert for the city speculated that Jones could have been disoriented by alcohol withdrawal symptoms, but the appeals court found that the trial judge was correct to bar that testimony from the trial.