$7,000,000 settlement in Miami Beach Premises Liability Lawsuit

35 year-old James O’Reilly sustained a devastating spinal cord injury which rendered him paralyzed from the shins down. While standing on the balcony of a friend’s apartment, the railing of the balcony broke. Jimmy fell from the second story onto the concrete below severely bursting the vertebral body in his back. He was briefly knocked unconscious and when he awoke he could not move his legs.

Tom Scolaro’s lengthy and exhaustive investigation in this premises liability case revealed alarming behavior and numerous building code violations that all but guaranteed that an accident was going to happen.

Evidence was established that the owner of the condo, time and again, took shortcuts, pinched pennies, displayed contempt for tenant safety concerns and repeatedly acted in a grossly negligent manner. Deliberate self-serving choices were made instead of keeping tenants and guests safe. Specifically, it was discovered that the owner refused to make necessary repairs to balconies and railings. The extent and protracted length of the neglect, building code violations, cover up, patch work repairs, ignoring of tenants’ repeated complaints and desire to maximize profit at the expense of safety were overwhelming.

Over the years, multiple tenants had specifically complained to the owner about the safety issues surrounding the balconies. Several tenants had safety concerns with their balconies before this incident. Some tenants’ balconies were oxidized out and others were simply not properly affixed to the concrete. Others were loose to the touch. One tenant in particular showed the dangerous problem in person to the owner. The latter suggested the tenant have the condo’s handy man patch over the base of the railing with concrete months later in violation of the building code.

At no point did the owner ever inspect the remaining balcony railings after being notified of the issues. At no point did he ever hire any engineer or licensed contractor to properly repair the balconies after being directly warned. He never pulled a permit for the work and never had anything he had done to the balconies inspected. The owner did nothing but collect his rents.

Ultimately, our firm’s relentless work and pursuit of a resolution was successful. A settlement of $7 million was reached in a record-time 14 months. That award has allowed Jimmy to secure his financial future, as well as try to live as comfortably as his condition allows. However, what was most remarkable about this result was that the apartment building only had $1 million of liability insurance. Mr. Scolaro was able to obtain $6 million over the policy limits directly from the insurance carrier.