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Personal Injury - Verdicts & Settlements

November 25, 2009

By Steve Mocarsky
Staff Writer

$2.5M jury award for man hurt in fall

Corgan Realty was one of defendants in suit filed by Robert Smith of Shavertown.

WILKES-BARRE - A Luzerne County jury last week awarded nearly $2.5 million in damages to a Shavertown man who became disabled as the result of a fall at a Wilkes-Barre Township warehouse in 2002.

The jury awarded Robert Smith $1,687,000 for past and future medical expenses and past and future lost earnings, plus another $803,000 for pain and suffering. The verdict was rendered at about 8 p.m. Friday after four days of trial before Court of Common Pleas Judge Joseph Musto.

The defendants in the case were Corgan Realty Co. Inc., 369 Johnson St.; Michael Corgan, individually and as president of the company; and Corgan Contracting Co. Inc., 254 Johnson St., Wilkes-Barre Township. They were represented by attorney Joseph Murphy, of Murphy, Piazza & Genello in Scranton.

Smith's attorney, Donald C. Ligorio, of Hourigan, Kluger & Quinn in Kingston, called the verdict "fair and appropriate" based on Smith's injuries and evidence presented at trial.

"Obviously, my client would prefer to be able to work and lead a normal life, but the injuries he suffered have rendered him unable to do so," Ligorio said. "Hopefully, the compensation awarded by the jury … will provide some peace of mind and security for him and his family."

Smith was working as a heating, ventilation and air-conditioning technician for Monk Heating and Air Conditioning Co. of Wilkes-Barre Township when the incident occurred. Monk had been hired by Corgan Contracting to perform work at a warehouse at 369 Johnston St. that was owned by Corgan Realty.

While Smith was working at the warehouse, the suit alleged, the defendants installed a new concrete step unit at the warehouse entrance, but had it placed about a foot away from the threshold of the door so additional work could be completed near the entranceway.

Leaving the building on Nov. 22, 2002, Smith stepped into the foot-wide gap and fell, causing severe and permanent damage to his neck, back and right shoulder. The suit alleged the fall and resulting injuries were caused by the defendants' allowing the dangerous condition to exist, failing to correct it and failing to warn Smith and others about it.

The jury found Corgan Contracting 48 percent responsible, Michael Corgan and Corgan Realty 48 percent responsible and Smith 4 percent responsible.

Ligorio said the verdict could be appealed to a higher court. But if it is, he said, he feels confident it would be upheld.

Attempts to reach Murphy, the defendants' attorney, were unsuccessful.

PLEASE NOTE: Every case is fact specific, and these results do not guaranty the same results will be obtained in a different case.